The Deadly Cost of Loneliness
Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
We didn’t talk too much about loneliness before the pandemic… but now it’s a topic we can’t avoid.
It’s long affected seniors, and since COVID-19 hit, the problem has become ten times worse.
That’s because researchers have uncovered a dark side of social distancing.
A new study has found that loneliness could have a deadly cost.
Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco found that seniors who consider themselves very lonely are much more likely to turn to prescription drugs. This includes painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, and opioids.
The study team examined the use of prescription drugs in three groups of seniors, divided by mood:
- moderately lonely,
- or very lonely.
The use of opioids was almost DOUBLE in the seniors who described themselves as very lonely. And the use of anti-anxiety drugs and sedatives was around 2.5 times worse in the very lonely.
They also found that not only did drug use increase in the very lonely group, but depression, suicide, and anxiety did as well. On top of that, lonely seniors had higher rates of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart failure.
Clearly, being lonely is harmful to your health in a way you can’t afford.
And while fixing loneliness is not easy, here are some things to try:
- Fill your house with music. While television is the companion most people choose, try spending some time listing to music you love.
- Stay connected any way you can. There have never been more ways to connect with other people. My 89-year-old father recently got on Facebook to stay in touch with his grandkids and is loving it. There are many online ways to see and talk to family and friends.
- Make the most of the interactions. Most people feel more satisfied with deep and meaningful connection. This means sharing your emotions, personal experiences, and asking questions to get people to talk about themselves. Strengthen old friendships—or better yet, make new friends.
- Get outside. There is something about getting outside of your house that makes people feel less alone and more connected to the world. Venture out, even if it’s just to go on a walk by yourself.
- Consider a pet. If you like animals, a pet can be a great way to have a meaningful connection. Plus, you’ll be doing a good deed by adopting an animal that needs a home.
Melore, Chris. “Loneliness is driving more older adults to use opioids, prescription drugs” 7/26/2021. https://www.studyfinds.org/loneliness-older-adults-opioids/
Written By Dr. Scott Olson, ND
Nearly 25 years ago, failed mainstream medical treatments left Dr. Olson in constant pain – and his health in ruins. And that’s when he did something REVOLUTIONARY. He began his career in medicine – and dedicated his life to uncovering the true, underlying causes of disease.
Through his innovative medical practices in Tennessee and Colorado, Dr. Olson has helped cure countless seniors from across America of arthritis… heart disease… diabetes… and even cancer. All without risky prescription drugs or painful surgeries.
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