Experts: Those Left Behind To Grow Old Alone Suffer Physically, Emotionally

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Loneliness is one of the worst feelings, causing suffering at any age.

But now, new research shows it can be especially debilitating to older adults, increasing the risk of serious health problems and even death.

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Raquel Peguero, 77, told CBS 2’s Maurice Dubois she longs for the days when her home was filled with laughter and music.

“He could even sing opera, he had a beautiful voice,” Peguero said. “I had a good life.”

Her husband, known as “Yayo El Indio,” was a famous Latin singer.

But Peguero said the music — and life as she knew it — came to an abrupt end when her husband died 10 years ago.

“It’s not the same, I’m all alone,” Peguero said.

Peguero is one of 10 million older Americans who live alone. And while many people get used it, others are so overwhelmed by their loneliness, it negatively affects their health.

“It’s very important for people to be connected and to have a feeling that you can depend on another person,” said Dr. Igor Galynker, a psychiatrist at Beth Israel Medical Center.

Galynker said two new studies show loneliness is a risk factor for poor health — and even death.

“There is an increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases, strokes, heart attacks. The risk of death increases is two-fold,” Dr. Galynker said.

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Galynker said lonely adults are more apt to become disinterested in eating right, taking their medications or seeing the doctor.

“Any of these reasons or all of them together will contribute to decrease life expectancy,” Dr. Galynker said.

Experts say it’s important, once loneliness is recognized, for families to play a greater role or involve social services.

“We under-appreciate the role of the family in our own well being,” Dr. Galynker said.

“Sometimes I’m not so good, sometimes I’m okay,” Puguero said.

There are so many ways to avoid loneliness. Please click on the following links to find out how:

CareCycle Solutions

CSCS

N.J. Dept. of Health and Human Services

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