Effects of loneliness on mental health of elderly people: The role of the nurse
Ibrahimi, Esat (2015)
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This study is a part of Arcadas Lovisa-project about healthy aging which is commissioned by Lovisa City. The purpose of this study is to find out what are the effects of loneliness on mental health of elderly people, what is the nature of relationship between loneliness and health and to discuss what nurses could do about these problems. The research questions were: ’What effects does loneliness have on mental health of elderly people?’, ’What is the nature of the relationship between loneliness and health in general?’ and ’What should be done by nurses to alleviate the possible adverse effects of loneliness on mental health of elderly people?’ Rautasalo et al.’s Geriatric Rehabilitation Nursing Model was used as a theoretical framework. The research method used was literature review with 10 articles. Analysis was conducted using Graneheim & lundman (2004)’s qualitative content analysis in nursing research. Findings shows that loneliness can be a major cause of cognition decline, poor self-esteem, anxiety, depression, restlessness, sleep disorders, alcohol abuse, suicidal behavior, feeling helplessness and threat, behavioral withdrawal, sense of emptiness, shyness, negative emotions, impaired quality of life, disability, higher systolic blood pressure, more use of social and health care services and even mortality. Loneliness can have a bidirectional relationship with poor health and it can correlate with some health disorders to generate new health problems. Nurses can help the elderlies to reduce the harmful effects of loneliness through educating them and leading them to involve in more social activities and group works and also enhancing their health. More studies could be done about the gender differences in perceiving the two types of loneliness and the treatment and prevention processes.