Addressing Negative Thoughts Most Effective In Fighting Loneliness

Addressing Loneliness in the Elderly Living Alone At HomeThe University of Chicago Medical Center recently published news about a study conducted there which indicates that in some cases, social intervention may be as effective as medications for combating loneliness and depression in the elderly.  According to the press release announcing the results of the study:

Changing how a person perceives and thinks about others was the most effective intervention for loneliness, a sweeping analysis of previous research has determined. The findings may help physicians and psychologists develop better treatments for loneliness, a known risk factor for heart disease and other health problems.

Recently, researchers have characterized the negative influence of loneliness upon blood pressure, sleep quality, dementia, and other health measures. Those effects suggest that loneliness is a health risk factor, similar to obesity or smoking, which can be targeted to improve patients’ health in several dimensions.

“People are becoming more isolated, and this health problem is likely to grow,” said John Cacioppo, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. “If we know that loneliness is involved in health problems, the next question is what we can do to mitigate it.”

When the researchers pooled the 20 studies that employed the most rigorous study design of randomized, controlled trials, they found a small, but significant effect on reducing loneliness. Sub-dividing the studies by their strategy revealed that interventions targeting social cognition — a person’s thoughts about themselves and others — were far more effective than the other strategies.

This new research brings forth the importance of combating isolation and depression in the elderly and others, especially those who live at home alone.

To see the complete study announcement, go to Addressing negative thoughts most effective in fighting loneliness.

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Originally posted 2010-09-13 14:00:00.

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About Tim Colling

Tim Colling is the founder and President of A Servant's Heart In-Home Care, which provided in-home caregiving services in San Diego County, and also of A Servant's Heart Geriatric Care Management, which provided
professional geriatric care management services and long term care placement services in San Diego County. Tim has more than 30 years of experience in management in a variety of industries. He held a Certified Care Manager credential from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers. Tim is also a Certified Public Accountant (retired), and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University at San Diego. In addition to writing blog posts here for the Servant’s Heart blog, Tim also is a regular contributor to HealthLine.com and to FamilyAffaires.com as well as blogs of other eldercare services provider companies. Finally, Tim is also the president of A Servant's Heart Web Design and Marketing, which provides home care marketing as well as website design and online marketing for those who serve the elderly and their families.