Wellness: Apparently, You Can Die From Loneliness

June 2012

Loneliness can strike at any age, but the feeling may come with dire consequences for the elderly. According to a study released this week, the University of California in San Francisco followed more than 1,600 people 60-years-old and older, and found that the feeling of isolation and being left out increased the loss of physical functioning by 24.8 percent and the chance of death by 45 percent.

So what can you do about it besides cry?

You can start by volunteering for Senior Assistance Center’s Friendly Visitor Program, a nonprofit that provides company and assistance to Denver’s senior adults who struggle with poverty. Volunteers can make a phone call, sit down to chat, run errands, meet up for dinner, or take walks with seniors. A perk? You get to hang out with someone who's really excited to see you.

Bonus: The health benefits go both ways. Studies have shown that volunteering boosts your happiness, decreases signs of mental and physical aging, lowers rates of mortality and incidences of heart attacks, and generally increases well-being. It's a win-win for everyone.

To volunteer, visit seniorassistancecenter.org.

—Image via Shutterstock