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How older adults can combat loneliness


older woman volunteering with others

Credit:123RF

Loneliness is something none of us want to experience.

And yet more people experience loneliness as they get older. As inter-personal relationships change especially when they become widowed, they lose the companionship and close relationship they shared with their partner.

Loneliness is also associated with poorer health, depression and even early mortality. Loneliness is a serious health concern.

One way to combat loneliness is to find that social connectedness and this can be obtained by volunteering.

The results showed that loneliness was significantly higher in those who became widowed compared to those who stayed continuously married.

A recent study examined whether becoming a volunteer reduced the risks associated with loneliness.

The researchers analysed a pool of data drawn from the 2006 – 2014 Health and Retirement Study. This study sample comprised of 5,882 married adults all aged 51 years or older.

The Health and Retirement Study, which was given every two years collected information on family, health and volunteer engagement

The study sample included individuals who were married and remained continuously married or became widowed.

The study asked the participants questions about their volunteer status and how much time they spent volunteering during the previous year.

They could choose one from three categories – one to 99 hours per year, 100 to 199 hours per year and 200 or more hours per year.

The results showed that loneliness was significantly higher in those who became widowed compared to those who stayed continuously married.

However, volunteering for two and more hours per week resulted in decreased loneliness levels which was similar to continuously married individuals volunteering at the same intensity.

The findings suggest that high intensity volunteering – at least 2 hours per week – can reduce loneliness in older adults who have become recently widowed.

Volunteering has many benefits and individuals who start intensive volunteering on a regular basis can also experience benefits in health and wellbeing which facilitates successful ageing.

Source: The Journals of Gerontology



 

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!