Lonely older adults have found comfort in Mindfulness

By Charlotte Summers

Loneliness is characterised by an unbearably deep sense of separateness. It has been clinically linked to difficulties regulating behaviour, unhealthy diets and poor exercise regimes. People who are lonely are at a greater risk of suffering from physical health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and immune system problems. Additionally, they have a greater risk of suffering from depression and stress.

According to a study conducted by the Public Library of Science, data from 148 previous studies investigating the impact between social relationships, length of life and health have concluded that the effect of loneliness is comparable to excessive smoking and alcohol and exceeds the effects of no exercise or obesity.

Previous research has investigated various means of reducing loneliness particularly in the aged community. Methods to reduce the negative impact of loneliness on health have previously included book clubs and online interactions through social media websites have been explored with rather negligible results.

However, a new study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania has concluded that Mindfulness meditation can reduce loneliness in older adults.

The research which was published in the Brain, Behaviour and Immunity journal assigned to older individuals to wither a waitlist control group or an 8-week mindfulness based stress reduction course.

It was reported that the individuals in the mindfulness group had significantly reduced pro-inflammatory gene expression after the meditation training. Inflammation has been associated with chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

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