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New insights into loneliness and its treatment in older adults

McHugh Power, Joanna E., Biddle, Kelsey Drew, Donovan, Nancy J. and Bell, Phaedra (2019) New insights into loneliness and its treatment in older adults. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 27 (3). S8-S9. ISSN 1064-7481

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Loneliness is a well-studied construct in the social sciences, in the epidemiology of aging and increasingly in gerontology but it is a relatively uncommon focus in psychiatric research. Loneliness is a perceived state of social and emotional isolation that is distinct from objective social isolation. Loneliness is understood to be both a perception and an emotion and may be a form of psychosocial stress. In large population-based studies, there is strong evidence that both loneliness and lower social engagement are independent predictors of accelerated cognitive decline and incident AD dementia. Psychosocial factors influencing loneliness are well known whereas little is known of the neurobiology and pathological correlates of loneliness, particularly in older people. The goal of this session is to illustrate the importance of social function and wellbeing to longitudinal cognition and Alzheimer's disease progression in older adults. The four speakers will provide data from their own research examining associations of loneliness and social engagement to cognition and Alzheimer's disease biomarkers. Dr. Joanna McHugh Power will describe six-year data defining patterns of loneliness and social isolation that are most predictive of semantic memory declines in over 8,000 participants from the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Dr. Nancy Donovan (Chair) will present a cross-sectional study defining associations of greater loneliness with higher cortical amyloid burden and regional tau deposition in a sample of cognitively normal older adults from the Harvard Aging Brain Study. Kelsey Biddle from Dr. Donovan's group will describe longitudinal data from the Harvard Brain Study examining cortical amyloid deposition, cognition and psychosocial factors that are predictive of decline in social engagement over 3 years among cognitively normal elderly. Dr. Phaedra Bell will present data from a pilot study focusing on lonely older adults to assess the impact of a multimodal intergenerational intervention on ratings of loneliness and mood in these participants. Finally, Dr. McHugh Power (Discussant) will lead the speakers in a panel discussion, along with Q&A involving session attendees.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology > Cognitive psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > Welfare of older people
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ni Mhaicin
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2019 14:51
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2019 14:53

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