Loneliness is a mental state that can influence physical health and life expectancy.
A recent study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Sciences indicated that the risk of early death for lonely older adults is comparable to that of smokers or obese people.
The psychological experience of loneliness appears to trigger higher blood pressure and increased inflammation, which increases the risk of dementia and heart disease.
This is a big issue for many older people who survive their spouses and whose children move away. The practical solution for this kind of loneliness caused by social isolation is to take measures to strengthen social ties.
But some loneliness results from an individual’s personality — people who are mistrustful or paranoid tend to be socially isolated.
Recent research shows that an eight-week mindfulness training program can teach people to be more aware of their present state and reduce feelings of loneliness, as well as biological measures of inflammation.
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