Loneliness in later life and reaching longevity: Findings from the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam (LASA)

Lloyd Brandts, Theo G. van Tilburg, Hans Bosma, Martijn Huisman, Piet A. van den Brandt

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives. There is an increasing research interest in factors that characterize those who reach exceptionally old ages. Although loneliness is often associated with an increased risk for premature mortality, its relationship with reaching longevity is still unclear. We aimed to quantify the association between (social/emotional) loneliness and the likelihood of reaching the age of 90 years in men and women separately. Methods. For these analyses, data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) was used. Loneliness, social loneliness and emotional loneliness were assessed at baseline using the 11-item De Jong-Gierveld scale in 1992-93 (at age 64-85 years). Follow-up for vital status information until the age of 90 years was 99.5% complete. Multivariable-adjusted Cox regression analyses with a fixed follow-up time were based on 1,032 men and 1,078 women to calculate Risk Ratios (RR) of reaching 90 years. Results. No significant associations were observed between loneliness and reaching 90 years in both men (RR,0.90; 95%CI,0.70-1.14) and women (RR,0.98; 95%CI,0.83-1.14). Social loneliness was significantly associated with a reduced chance of reaching 90 years in women (RR,0.82; 95%CI,0.67-0.99). Discussion. The current analyses, did not show support for the existence of a meaningful effect of loneliness on reaching longevity in both sexes. When investigating specific dimensions of loneliness, we observed that reporting social loneliness was associated with reaching 90 years in women. This indicates that, for women, a large and diverse personal network at an older age could increase the probability of reaching longevity. However, replication of our findings in other cohorts is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415–424
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology. Series B : Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume76
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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