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Connecting with neighbors may be good for older adults’ health

Photo: FG Trade/iStockphoto

Strong social connections with neighbors may help reduce the negative health effects of living alone, researchers at Rutgers University say.

Living alone has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, poor biological health and early death, according to a Rutgers’ press release. For their study, the researchers looked at data – including living arrangements and social engagement – for nearly 3,200 people 60 and older who were enrolled in the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago. Then, over the next eight to 10 years, they tracked participants’ risk of death. 


Findings show that the people who lived alone and had little interaction and connection with neighbors had a 48.5% increased risk of dying during the study period than the people who lived with someone. In contrast, people who lived alone but reported strong connections with their neighbors had a similar risk as those who didn’t live alone.

In addition to recommending public health initiatives aimed at building social connections, the researchers say everyone can help: Reach out and be neighborly to older people living alone.

The study was published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

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