Dec 4, 2010

Another Indication of the Importance of Socialization

Social engagement has a profound effect on longevity and health outcomes. Exploring social support and emotional health is important when evaluating the older adult. This study confirms that loneliness was associated with a higher incidence of emergency hospitalizations....

By Carole Larkin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

This study was done with people who didn’t have any cognitive issues. I think the percentages would have been even higher if they had used cognitively impaired persons only.


LONELINESS AND EMERGENCY AND PLANNED HOSPITALIZATIONS IN A COMMUNITY SAMPLE OF OLDER ADULTS. Molloy GJ, McGee HM, et al: The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2010; 58 (August) 1538-1541.
  • BACKGROUND: Physical and mental health are clearly linked. Loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for illness and debility. They lead to higher health care utilization as well as increased morbidity and mortality.
  • OBJECTIVES: To look at loneliness and whether it increased emergency and planned hospitalizations.
  • DESIGN: Cross-sectional interview.
  • METHODS: 2,033 participants were asked if they had been in the hospital in the previous 12 months and whether those hospitalizations were emergent or planned. Also, loneliness was measured on a 4-point scale based on 1 question. Depressive symptoms, social participation, perceived social support, and chronic illness were also addressed in the interview.
  • RESULTS: 11% of the cohort had an emergency hospitalization in the previous 12 months, and 15% had planned hospitalizations during the same length of time. Loneliness was correlated with an increase in emergency hospitalizations. In fact, emergency department usage increased 29% if the patient was lonely. However, it was not associated with an increase in planned hospitalizations. This was independent of depression, social participation, and social support.
  • CONCLUSIONS: Loneliness was associated with emergency, but not planned hospitalizations.
KEVIN’S COMMENTS: Social engagement has a profound effect on longevity and health outcomes. Exploring social support and emotional health is important when evaluating the older adult. This study confirms that loneliness was associated with a higher incidence of emergency hospitalizations.


Carole Larkin MAG, CMC, DCP, EICS is a geriatric care manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. She also trains caregivers in home care companies, assisted livings, memory care communities, and nursing homes in dementia specific techniques for best care of dementia sufferers. ThirdAge Services LLC, is located in Dallas, TX.



Alzheimer's Disease -- Advice and Insight


Original content Carole Larkin, the Alzheimer's Reading Room