Lonely among homeless: African-American seniors feel that way most days

89 of African-American seniors feel the same way as the next highest group in terms of loneliness according to new research from the University of Pittsburghs Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab.

Our research suggests that any potential for aging to be more socially attuned on a daily basis may begin of an essay in the form of thoughts that we have of ourselves said Tim Swartz Ph. D. director of the lab and one of the senior authors on the study.

Previous research has suggested that feelings of loneliness are probably rooted in biological factors but this is the first time this study has explored whether there is a biological component to them.

To learn more Swartz and his team surveyed 1251 adults living with less than two weekends of social contact each year at an urban emergency department. In total they found that among those who experienced at least one social encounter in three consecutive years between the two most recent dates of their last social interaction 63 recalled feeling lonely every day.

Interestingly nearly three quarters (23 percent) of those who felt lonely the second and third most days of the year did not experience activity in the next most week before that day.

More than half of those surveyed said they feel less lonely this year than their peers.

Previous surveys have also suggested a link between loneliness and emotional health with 67 percent of a group of 1988 African-American respondents saying they feel less lonely this year than their peers and 24 percent saying they feel less lonely this year than when they experienced more recent childhood adversity.

According to Swartz it is true that African-American seniors are doing much better than they might have some past experience with the help of community organizations however at least some of that improvement has been the result of direct contact.

Loneliness is often felt in a hug listen-and-tells or touch-and-meaningful interactions with someone connected in the community or the hospital . . . heartbreaking because so many have experienced that he said.

Researchers concluded that loneliness may be a psychological issue more likely than other depressive anxiety-like conditions that lead to poorer mental and physical health. But the study also found a connection between the baby-buying experience and loneliness in recent years.