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Age Ageing. 1999 Sep;28(5):491-5.

Changes in and factors related to loneliness in older men. The Zutphen Elderly Study.

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  • 1Department of Chronic Diseases Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.



To investigate (i) whether loneliness increases in old age, and if so, whether it relates to ageing itself, to time trends or to cohort effects and (ii) the relationship between changes in institutionalization, partner status and health and loneliness.


939 men born between 1900 and 1920 completed the De Jong-Gierveld Loneliness Scale, and answered questions about their partner status, health and institutionalization in 1985, 1990 and 1995.


For the oldest group (born between 1900 and 1910) loneliness scores increased, but not for the younger groups. The increase in loneliness was attributable to ageing. No birth cohort or time effects were found. Loneliness was related to changes in institutionalization, partner status and subjective health but not to limitations in activities of daily living or cognitive function.


the increased loneliness experienced by very old men is influenced by loss of a partner, moving into a care home or not feeling healthy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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