How loneliness affects end-of-life experiences?

Loneliness is a pervasive psychosocial phenomenon with profound implications for the health and wellbeing of older adults throughout the life continuum, and particularly at the end of life.

Little is known about the relationship between loneliness and end‐of‐life (EOL) experience, including symptom burden, the intensity of care, and advance care planning among older adults.

In an investigation of Americans over age 50 years who died between 2004 and 2014, people who were portrayed as lonely based on review results were burdened by more symptoms and received serious finish of-life care contrasted and non-lonely people.

In the 2,896-participant study, one-third of adults were lonely. In addition to having an increased likelihood of experiencing burdensome symptoms at the end of life, lonely individuals were more likely to use life support in the last two years of life (35.5% versus 29.4%) and more likely to die in a nursing home (18.4% versus 14.2%) than non-lonely individuals.

Lead author Nauzley Abedini, MD, MSc, of the University of Michigan, said“Loneliness is a pervasive psychosocial phenomenon with profound implications for the health and wellbeing of older adults throughout the life continuum, and particularly at the end of life. We must do more–as healthcare providers, but also as a society–to screen for and intervene on loneliness not just during the dying process, but before the end of life period.”

The study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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