Narrator: This is Science Today. Seniors who report feeling lonely are more likely to suffer from a decline in health or even death within a six-year timeframe. Those were the findings of a study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco. Geriatrics professor Carla Perissinotto says their study is among the largest to focus on feelings of loneliness and the connection to ill health.
Perissinotto: The most surprising aspect of this paper was that the correlation was actually so strong. Many people are not surprised to hear that there are lonely older adults, but what I think is surprising is that we tend to look at traditional medical risk factors as a risk of functional decline and death, but we don't often look at social determinants of health.
Narrator: Perissinotto says another interesting finding was that loneliness did not mean living alone — about two-thirds of the seniors who reported feeling lonely were actually married or living with a partner. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.