Purpose To explore associations between perceived loneliness, social isolation, and health complaints among older people. Methods 5804 participants from the Swedish population study “Good Aging in Skåne” were included. Structured interviews and questionnaires were used to assess perceived loneliness, social isolation, 30 somatic and mental-health related symptoms, socio-demographics, lifestyle, and health. The mentioned symptoms were divided into seven symptom domains: depressive, tension, gastrointestinal- and urinary, musculoskeletal, metabolic, cardiopulmonary, and head-related symptoms. Multiple linear regression was performed to assess associations between reported symptoms and degree of perceived loneliness and social isolation. Multiple logistic regression models were constructed to investigate associations between the prevalence of symptoms in the symptom domains and perceived loneliness and social isolation. Results 60% of the participants reported feeling lonely at least occasionally. Social isolation was noted by 6%. Higher levels of perceived loneliness were associated to an increased number of reported symptoms. Lonely participants had a higher prevalence of symptoms in all investigated symptom domains, ranging from 67% (gastrointestinal-urinary) to 96% (depressive) for the group experiencing constant loneliness. Conclusions Perceived loneliness is a common condition among older people in modern day Sweden and potentially harmful for their subjective well-being and health.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology