Newsmaker: Tamara Sussman on loneliness
Published Tuesday, July 10, 2012 2:09PM EDT
Growing old is not for the faint of heart goes the old saw, and there are many reasons to be concerned about self-sufficiency as we age.
However one sometimes overlooked issue is lonelines.
Dr. Tamara Sussman says that being lonely can have a significant effect on a person's wellbeing.
"There have been studies that show that it's associated with physical decline in aging, and in fact mortality, so you can literally die from being alone, or feeling alone is more, I think, the truth," said Dr. Sussman.
She says the oldest people are most likely the loneliest.
"For people who are 80 and over where you tend to start slowing down, getting some physical chronic conditions, it's up to 50 percent who would report frequent loneliness," said Dr. Sussman.
She is recommending health agencies start thinking about loneliness as a potential health crisis.
"If you want to use transportation as an older adult, you will be able to book something to get to a medical appointment but not to get to the hairdresser, which may be your only social interaction for the week," said Dr. Sussman.