A study conducted by Robert Wilson of Rush University Medical Centre of Chicago suggests that elders who are subjected to loneliness may suffer an Alzheimer's like Dementia. People who are single or socially secluded are also at a higher risk to develop these disorders late in their life.
According to this study, a group of 823 people were analyzed who were all senior citizens in the age group of 80 for a period of four years. A quiz on loneliness was given to them and their responses recorded annually.
Loss of memory and confusion which are the important symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's, were monitored in these elders. It was observed that people who had a high score in the loneliness quiz were at a higher risk to develop these disorders.
A stress hormone which leads to the damage of brain cells is said to be active in people who are lonely for an extended period of time. This theory also suggests that lonesome people are prone to cancer and high blood pressure also.
But John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago feels that this research has to be quantified further. On the positive side, group activities conducted for these old people are said to have a beneficial effect on them.