Loneliness in adulthood and old age linked to having siblings

(ORDO NEWS) — A scientist from Austria came to the conclusion that loneliness after 50 correlates with the circumstances of a person’s childhood, including the presence of siblings.

Loneliness is a rather serious social problem, so interest in it among European scientists is growing. Studies have shown that the less healthy a person is, the more likely they are to become lonely, and with age, these risks only increase.

Loneliness itself is associated with a higher probability of earning a mental disorder (for example, depression or dementia) and even worsen the physiological state, which, in turn, can provoke the development of diseases such as diabetes, stroke or coronary heart disease. In addition, the mortality rate among single people is higher than among those who are not alone.

Sophie Gutmüller, a researcher at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (Austria), used data from the large cross-national survey on health and aging (SHARE), which includes information from people across Europe (in this case, it was about 17 countries). The respondents were at least 50 years old.

The results of her study confirmed that ill health is indeed a major factor correlated with loneliness in older age. It is associated with 43.2 percent of cases when people are left alone, without partners and other family members.

Twenty-seven percent of these cases correlated with lack of social support, 10.4 percent with personality traits, and 7.5 percent with childhood circumstances.

People who had few or no childhood friends were 1.24 times more likely to be single at age 50 or older than those who had. The same applies to the relationship of the child with the mother: the chances of being left alone after 50 years were 1.34 times higher for those who had a difficult relationship with their parent.

The likelihood that a person will be left alone at an older age was also affected by the wealth of his family in childhood: people who grew up in poverty were 1.21 times more likely to become lonely than those who grew up in prosperity.

Loneliness was also more common among people with neurotic problems and less common among those with traits such as openness, accommodating, conscientiousness, and extraversion.

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