Alone or accompanied?
Shrinking social relationships due to losses (widowhood, death of friends and family, etc.) and the lack of social support lead to a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
These troubles are associated with different aspects of physical and mental health, such as symptoms of depression, problems sleeping, reduced physical activity, poorer mental health and cognition, changes to the immune system, a low level of well-being, or a greater risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The feeling of loneliness affects the cardiovascular system. Isolated people feel insecure and this leads to a rise in their blood pressure and level of cortisone, a hormone which mobilises energy resources and increases the response to stimuli, which implies significant wear on the body.
People who feel lonely have a greater activation of genes involved in inflammatory processes, arteriosclerosis, stroke and diabetes.
The participation of older people in civic, social and family life is related to different variables of perceived health and well-being.