Loneliness can hurt at any age, but for older adults it can be lethal.
In a study of people over 60, loneliness was associated with a higher risk of death and functional decline in daily living activities, upper extremity tasks and stair-climbing,
The study, published online June 18 in Archives of Internal Medicine, included 1,604 participants (average age 71) who were followed over six years.
The study authors suggested medical providers asking older people about loneliness in exams could help identify those at risk for disability and poor health, according to Journal of the American Medical Association news release.
In a separate study also published online June 18 in Archives of Internal Medicine, living alone was linked with a higher risk of death and cardiovascular death among people who have or are at risk for heart disease or peripheral vascular disease.
Participants included 44,573 people in the global REACH (REduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health) registry, and 19 percent of them lived alone.
The higher risk of death was in the 45-65 and 66-80 age groups. There wasn't a higher risk for patients older than 80 living alone vs. those living with other people, researchers found.