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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Loneliness in old age is a very popular issue in the media although it is frequently looked at through the lens of prejudice and myth. There is no doubt that loneliness is a serious problem for older people and that, considering its association with adverse health outcomes, both from a mental and physical point of view, increased attention should be paid to this topic. The main findings about loneliness are: (1) it is a common subjective experience; (2) it is a negative condition for human beings; (3) the prevalence of loneliness is higher in southern European countries compared to northern European countries; (4) loneliness is more prevalent in young and older cohorts than in middle-aged adults; (5) loneliness is associated with several variables although the direction of the association, as cause or consequences, is far from clear; (6) most probably, personal and contextual variables have a bidirectional relationship. In this chapter we review the multiple variables associated with loneliness as well the diversity of possible consequences. Although there is abundant literature on loneliness, a deeper and more systematic knowledge of it will help to develop and implement more specific interventions to deal with the problem. The types of intervention that have been reported appear to be relatively inefficient and probably the subject must be addressed by innovative strategies from both a social as well as a psychological perspective.

Keywords: loneliness, health, outcomes, predictors, interventions

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