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How Loneliness Affects End-of-Life Experiences

In a Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study of Americans over age 50 years who died between 2004 and 2014, individuals who were characterized as lonely based on survey results were burdened by more symptoms and received more intense end-of-life care compared with non-lonely people.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020 12:01 am EST
"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."

In a study of Americans over age 50 years who died between 2004 and 2014, individuals who were characterized as lonely based on survey results were burdened by more symptoms and received more intense end-of-life care compared with non-lonely people.

In the 2,896-participant study, which is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 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 2 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.

“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,” said lead author Nauzley Abedini, MD, MSc, of the University of Michigan. “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.”

Additional Information

Link to Study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgs.16354

About Journal 

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) is the go-to journal for clinical aging research. We provide a diverse, interprofessional community of healthcare professionals with the latest insights on geriatrics education, clinical practice, and public policy—all supporting the high-quality, person-centered care essential to our well-being as we age. Since the publication of our first edition in 1953, JAGS has remained one of the oldest and most impactful journals dedicated exclusively to gerontology and geriatrics.

About Wiley

Wiley drives the world forward with research and education. Through publishing, platforms and services, we help students, researchers, universities, and corporations to achieve their goals in an ever-changing world. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to all of our stakeholders. The Company's website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

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