A study recently published tells us that while rising rates of loneliness is no surprise, there are three different ages where loneliness peaks: during the 20s, 50s and 80s. About 75% of the subjects surveyed has moderate to high levels of loneliness. The measure of loneliness is subjective and is defined as “subjective distress” between the social relationships that you want and the ones that you have.
Here are some findings in the study that was done in San Diego County, California, USA — with 340 participants ranging from 27 to 101 years old.
- Of the three peaks, the worst peak in loneliness is in the 80s. If you are fortunate to live till then, things are normally not good — you will have issues with your health, concerns about finances and even surviving the death of your loved ones and friends. Studies have shown that loneliness is often associated with the decline in physical and mental health.
- The study found that there is no difference between men and women – both sexes suffer the same prevalence and severity of loneliness. In general, they are equally lonely and to about the same extent.
- There is an inverse relationship between wisdom and loneliness — which means that if you possess a higher degree of wisdom, you will be less likely to suffer loneliness. The research measure 6 attributes associated with wisdom: general knowledge of life, emotional management, empathy, compassion, altruism & sense of fairness, insight, acceptance of divergent values and decisiveness. If you possess these traits, you may have a good chance to beat loneliness!
- As for ageing, loneliness is often an accepted norm in our society. However, it is not only a common problem but one that is serious. In many developed countries, loneliness among the seniors have reached epidemic levels.
- There have been previous studies that link loneliness to a decrease in life span similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
- The positive conclusion is that there is some evidence that loneliness is something that may be “more under our control than some people think.” More research probably needs to be done but it points to the fact that “building a wiser society may help us develop a more connected, less lonely, and happier society. “
Click here for link to the study: “High prevalence and adverse health effects of loneliness in community-dwelling adults across the lifespan: role of wisdom as a protective factor.” published in the Journal Psychogeriatrics.