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Psychol Aging. 1997 Dec;12(4):574-89.

Loneliness and nursing home admission among rural older adults.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames 50011-3180, USA.


In this study, the authors tested the relation between loneliness and subsequent admission to a nursing home over a 4-year time period in a sample of approximately 3,000 rural older Iowans. Higher levels of loneliness were found to increase the likelihood of nursing home admission and to decrease the time until nursing home admission. The influence of extremely high loneliness on nursing home admission remained statistically significant after controlling for other variables, such as age, education, income, mental status, physical health, morale, and social contact, that were also predictive of nursing home admission. Several mechanisms are proposed to explain the link between extreme loneliness and nursing home admission. These include loneliness as a precipitant of declines in mental and physical health and nursing home placement as a strategy to gain social contact with others. Implications for preventative interventions are discussed.

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