HealthDay News — For people age 70 or older who struggle with a chronic illness, loneliness is often a complicating factor, a new study finds.
Canadian researchers looked at 121 older adults, mostly in their 70s. They found that feelings of loneliness rose after the onset of chronic health problems — even among those who had been with the same partner for 50 years or more. The study was published recently in the journal Health Psychology.
“The quality of our social ties plays a role when it comes to coping with the effects of serious disease in later life. And just having a partner around may not be enough,” study first author Meaghan Barlow, PhD, of the Personality, Aging, and Health Lab at Concordia University in Montreal, said in a university news release.
Older adults with chronic illness can reduce their risk of loneliness by trying to remain positive about their health challenge and not blaming themselves for the illness, the researchers said. Strategies like those can help them stay motivated to socialize and prevent depression, Barlow’s team said.
Barlow MA, et al. Chronic Illness and Loneliness in Older Adulthood: The Role of Self-Protective Control Strategies. Health Psychol. 2014; doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000182.