Volunteering and caring for grandchildren protects from loneliness for the over 50s, review shows: Caring for a spouse is a risk factor for loneliness, however
Caregiving for a spouse or partner is seemingly associated with higher loneliness for those over 50 years of age, a new systemic review of published research on the issue shows.
Taking in data from 28 studies, comprising of 191,652 participants from 21 countries, the findings, however, also show that volunteering or looking after grandchildren may help reduce loneliness.
Publishing their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Aging and Mental Health, a team of international experts led by scientists at King’s College London, state the results highlight a need to develop targeted interventions to combat loneliness for older adults who are caring for their partner or spouse.
“Loneliness can leave people feeling isolated and disconnected from others — and can have a wide range of negative effects on their physical and mental health,” says lead author, Samia Akhter-Khan, who is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience within King’s College London.
“There is a pressing need to identify people who may be more vulnerable to feeling lonely — and to develop targeted solutions to prevent and reduce loneliness in these population groups
“Our findings suggest that providing care to a partner with complex health conditions, particularly dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, is related to higher levels of loneliness — whereas caring for children or volunteering can help reduce loneliness in older adults.”
Loneliness has many different causes, which will vary from person to person. Knowing which people are most at risk will lead to targeted approaches toward helping people who are feeling lonely.
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