Lonely Hearts Club: Socially Isolated Older Women at Risk for Heart Disease

Harry Nilsson sang about one being the loneliest number. And he wasn’t the only one. While being alone may not be good for the proverbial heart, it also could have effects on cardiovascular health.

A new study finds being socially isolated and having feelings of loneliness may increase the risk of heart disease in older women.

The recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at nearly 58,000 women 65 years and older over the course of eight years. None of the participants in the study had a history of heart disease.

It found women who had both greater social isolation and higher level of loneliness had a 13% to 27% higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to women who were more social and less isolated.

Changes in Life

The study points out that life changes in this age group, like retirement and loss of friends and family, only add to the risk of social isolation and loneliness. The current pandemic where people are continuing to socially distance doesn’t do much to curb the problem.

Although this study focuses on older women, isolation and loneliness can affect elderly men as well. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) found more than 30% of older adults report feeling lonely and 25% report feeling isolated.

Moving into a Community

Moving into a long-term care or assisted living community can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. Staff at our Advena Living communities encourage socialization and engagement in a variety of activities. Our social services directors hold regular resident council meetings and encourage feedback, so they can plan events and activities that community members want to do. Sharing a meal or going for a stroll with your new neighbors can also help provide a much-needed social outlet.

About Advena Living

Advena Living communities offer long-term care, skilled nursing and assisted living services at multiple locations in Kansas. We are dedicated to the vision that each person has value, and we should honor their individual choices. When a person moves into one of our Advena Living communities, our goal is to welcome them and their family as new members of our extended family. We work hard to accommodate what they want their schedule to be and what choice they want to make.