It has been discovered that millions of older Americans suffer from chronic loneliness, and the numbers keep on growing. 3,012 people with ages over 45 were included in a study conducted by the AARP magazine, and 35 percent of them suffered of chronic loneliness. A decade ago, the percent was 20, and the experts believe that it will continue to grow. It seems that people of all races, educational levels and gender suffered from loneliness. It seems that the ones, who suffer the most from it, are in their 40s and 50s.
What is chronic loneliness?
According to the experts, chronic loneliness is a condition which makes people stay away from relationships which make the regular person happy. These people are not unhappy, because they prefer to be lonely. They are in danger, because the condition brings various health threats. According to John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D., director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, people who suffer from this condition have higher chances of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and so on. It seems that the condition increases the level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone, and weakens the immune system.
The stress associated with this condition takes a physical and emotional toll. These people find it very difficult to control their emotions, and they overact to very simple things. For example, they will feel in danger when strangers approach them. They isolate themselves even more, and that is when things start to get even worse. Therapists say that feeling lonely is something natural, especially after a loss. Loneliness, unlike chronic loneliness is a temporary condition. However, people could become victims of chronic loneliness. If they need connection and they suffer a loss, they risk suffering from the illness. One of the most important factors which can trigger the condition is rejection. One might get very affected by rejection, and in order not to feel rejected again, he/she will stay away from human contact.
What are the dangers?
It is a defense mechanism. According to Census Bureau, there are 127 millions of people from the United States of America, with ages over 45. This means that more than 44 million elders suffer from this condition. It has been discovered that social networking are shrinking. In 2004, 24 percent of Americans stated that they do not have anyone they can discuss important matters with.
Not everyone who is old is lonely. There are many elders who have stated that their social interactions have been increased with age. There are many elder people who are lonely, but as I already mentioned, being lonely is not the same with suffering from chronic loneliness. People like to be alone. One stated that she enjoyed the fact that she was able to do whatever she liked. She came home at whatever hour she wanted, she ate what she want, she cleaned when she want, and so on. Many see loneliness as the possibility of doing what they want. The problem is that their health deteriorates because of it, and they do not know it.