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Dean Pomerleau posted a topic in General Health and LongevityAll, Loneliness and social support are things we don't talk about much around here and (speaking for myself) are things we may not pay enough attention to in general, both for their direct impact on quality of life (i.e. social engagements are an important part of what makes life worth living for many people), and for their instrumental benefits (i.e. loneliness and one's social network size seem to have a pretty dramatic impact on longevity). Regarding this second, instrumental benefit of a strong social network on longevity, I found that there are several recent studies similar to . It followed 600 men and women who were 70+ at baseline for 18 years, measuring at several time points their self-reported loneliness (i.e. how frequently a person feels lonely) and their social network, which was characterized as follows: ocial networks were measured by using four separate indicators including: marital status (married = 1, unmarried = 0), number of children, contact frequency with children and with friends, with scores ranging from 0 (do not meet at all) to 4 (almost everyday), and household size (number of people residing with the respondent). What they found regarding self-reported loneliness was: Mortality was higher among lonely men compared to those who were not lonely (46.9% and 34.3%, respectively) and among lonely women (58% and 48.4%, respectively). Here are the four survival curves for lonely/not-lonely men/women over the 18 years of followup from the full text: As you can see, women outlived men (no surprise) and both lonely men and women died significantly sooner than their not-lonely peers. Regarding the impact of one's social network on mortality, they found: [T]he variables that were found to significantly predict mortality among men were health status (self-rated health and co-morbidity), functional status (ADL), and social variables (marital status and size of household), suggesting that mortality was higher among those who were in poorer health and impaired functional status, were unmarried, and lived in smaller households. Among women only economic status was found to significantly predict mortality, suggesting that mortality was higher among poorer women. In short, for men in particular, a feeling of loneliness, being unmarried and living alone appear to be predictors of early mortality. These results raise two questions in my mind: 1) How and to what extent does the practice of CR impact one's social network and feeling of loneliness? Given that some of us eat strict and unusual diets, and eat at unusual times/intervals, it seems pretty plausible that this could (and in fact does, in my case) serve to isolate us to some degree from family and friends, who typically don't follow the same dietary habits. Eating together serves such an important social function in all cultures, it would seem almost inevitable that eating differently will impact one's relationship with others. Such an increase in social isolation could lead to loneliness, and the possibility of increased mortality - perhaps even negating the longevity benefits of CR. On the flip side, I'm pretty convinced from personal experience that CR can contribute to increased psychological resilience and a sense of well-being, which could counterbalance the negative influence of increased social isolation and reduce one's sense of loneliness. 2) To what extent can 'virtual' social networks, like connecting with other CR practitioners on this forum, make up for lack of direct social contact and reduce feelings of loneliness. Over the years I've found engaging with other folks from the CR Society through these forums and before that the CR mailing list, to be quite psychologically rewarding, producing a feeling of camaraderie,social connectedness, and a sense of being helpful to others, that would seem to me to be potentially beneficial substitute for direct face-to-face social connects. But I've never really been a very social person (e.g. I've always felt uncomfortable at parties), and so may be somewhat biased in this regard. I'd be interested in engaging with others on this topic and hearing what you think the net impact CR has had on your social network and feelings of loneliness vs. connectedness. --Dean Note: I debated whether to post this to "General Health & Longevity" or "CR Practice". I'm starting it in General Health & Longevity, since in general loneliness had nothing directly to do with CR. But I'm hoping others will engage in a discussion of how CR impacts one's social life and feeling of loneliness, in which case I'll move the thread to "CR Practice". -----------  Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2011;72(3):243-63. Loneliness, social networks, and mortality: 18 years of follow-up. Iecovich E(1), Jacobs JM, Stessman J. Full Text via Sci-hub.io: http://ahd.sagepub.com.sci-hub.io/content/72/3/243.short We examined the influence of changes in loneliness and social support networks upon mortality during 18 years of follow-up among an elderly cohort and determined the gender-specific nature of this relationship. The study is based on data collected from the Jerusalem Longitudinal Study (1990-2008), which has followed a representative sample of 605 community-dwelling elderly people. Subjects were randomly selected from an age homogenous cohort born 1920-1921 and were aged 70, 78, and 85 when data were collected at baseline in 1990 and at follow-up in 1998 and 2005. All-cause mortality from age 70-88 was determined according to the National Death Registry. Sense of loneliness was found to be stable among the majority of the respondents. Loneliness among men was found in bivariate analyses to be a risk factor for mortality. Although multivariate analyses found that loneliness was not a significant predictor of mortality, nonetheless several social network factors (marital status at the baseline and living arrangements) were found to predict mortality among men. Loneliness and solitude among elderly men can be a risk factor of mortality. The findings imply that attention should be given to this high risk group. PMID: 21834390
All, I'm sometimes asked by friends and family who aren't quite as obsessive as I am about health & longevity for a few tips they might be able to adopt that might help them stay healthier longer but without "going overboard" like I do. Today I stumbled across an article that I think fits the bill really well, and that I'll point such people to in the future. It is titled 13 Habits Linked to a Long Life (Backed by Science) and it is from the website AuthorityNutrition.com, which I've never considered much of an authority on nutrition, but this article is quite good so I may have to reconsider... Here is the list: Avoid Overeating Eat Some Nuts Use The Spice Turmeric Eat Plenty of Healthy Plant Foods Exercise and Be Physically Active Don’t Smoke Keep Your Alcohol Intake Moderate Prioritize Your Happiness Avoid Chronic Stress and Anxiety Nurture Your Social Circle Increase Your Conscientiousness Drink Coffee or Tea Develop a Good Sleeping Pattern Each of the 13 is explained in clear, easy to understand language. The article describes the science to back up the recommendations, and has references for people who want to learn more. Finally, it's really brief for those with a short attention span. There are three additional items I can think of that I would add to the list: 14. Don't Sit Too Much (ref) 15. Practice Good Oral Hygiene (discussion, discussion) 16. Ask Your Doctor - Get regular medical checkups and recommended tests after age 50, or earlier if you've got risk factors (discussion) Anyone else have health and longevity "best practices" you would or do suggest to friends/family that aren't included on the list? --Dean