We all feel lonely from time to time, but there are three phases in life when it reaches a peak for some, according to a new report.
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University of California researchers at the San Diego School of Medicine recently conducted a study published in the International Psychogeriatrics Journal to investigate loneliness in adulthood.
They investigated 340 residents of the San Diego County between the ages of 27 and 101, who had participated in earlier aging and mental illnesses. Subjects with severe physical or mental complaints, such as dementia, and those living in nursing homes or in need of substantial home help were excluded.
The scientists evaluated the loneliness of the participants using several systems, including the 20-point UCLA loneliness scale. a self-reported measure of social isolation developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
After analyzing the results, they discovered that loneliness occurred in three ages: late 20's, mid-50's, and late 80's.
"This is remarkable because the participants in this study did not have a high risk for moderate to severe loneliness. They had no serious physical disorders. They also did not suffer from major mental illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia, where you might expect loneliness to be problematic, "co-author Dilip Jeste said in a statement. "Although there were clear demographic constraints for the group, these participants were generally normal persons."
The authors found that loneliness is associated with poor mental health, substance abuse, cognitive impairment and poor physical health, such as hypertension and high blood pressure, disruptive sleep.
According to the team, this is the first known assessment of its kind, but more research has been requested.
"There are more knowledge gaps than answers at the moment," said Jeste. "These results, however, suggest that we need to think differently about loneliness. It's not about social isolation. A person can be alone and not feel lonely while a person can be in a crowd and feel alone. We need to find solutions and interventions to connect people who help them to become smarter. A wiser society would be a happier, more connected and less solitary society. "
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