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Social Connection and Relationships in Successful Aging

  • By: Louise C. Hawkley & John T. Cacioppo
  • In: Encyclopedia of Lifestyle Medicine & Health
  • Edited by: James M. Rippe
  • Subject:Health Psychology / Behavioral Medicine, Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology

Humans are born into the longest period of utter dependence as compared with any other species and are dependent on others across the life span to survive and prosper. They do not fare well when they live solitary lives or even when they simply perceive that they live in relative isolation. Perceived social isolation, known colloquially as loneliness, damages physical health, impairs cognitive functioning, diminishes well-being, and increases risk of mortality, particularly when experienced chronically. Conversely, a sense of social connectedness imbues life with joy and contentment and protects against the rapid physiological decline that accompanies aging. Social connectedness has relevance for human flourishing on theoretical grounds, and empirical data have revealed the mechanisms through which feelings of social connectedness influence health and well-being over ...

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