Having vulnerable mental health, such as living alone, depressed, and unhappy, accelerates aging as much as other health-impacting conditions, such as smoking. The result comes from a study conducted by Chinese researchers that reinforces the importance of paying attention not only to biological aging, but also to psychological aging.
The findings were published in the scientific journal ‘Aging Us’ and were obtained using an ‘Aging Clock’, a statistical model that used blood test data from the Longitudinal Health and retirement in China, with information from more than 11,914 adults over the age of 45. .
The information was analyzed by the scientists, who made the connection between the physical and psychological aspects of aging.
The researchers measured the biological age of the elderly in relation to the chronological age using 16 blood biomarkers (such as cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and glycated hemoglobin) and 7 other biometric parameters and arrived at the conclusion that having companionship and living in a psychologically positive environment is necessary for a healthy lifespan.
According to research, the watch detected accelerated aging in people with cardiovascular, lung and liver problems. But what was surprising was the finding that psychological factors (including living alone, feeling hopeless or unhappy) added 1.65 years to biological age – a sum of years greater than other expected aspects. , such as biological sex, housing, marital status and smoking status.
According to geriatrician Thaís Ioshimoto, of the Israelita Albert Einstein Hospital, other studies have already associated living alone and being a man, for example, with the risk of dying earlier. “What is interesting in this work is that it compares the risk of aging with other variables, such as smoking. This is a parameter that makes the results more tangible for the population”, specifies the doctor.
According to Thaís, the results have an impact on the health of the population and on possible public health actions because they reinforce the importance for older people to be active and to have a network of social contacts. “We are human beings, we don’t know how to live alone. Loneliness is a stressor and we still don’t know how to measure it. There is growing evidence that loneliness has a direct impact on mental health, longevity and quality of life,” he says.
The recommendation is that older people engage in a community, a social contact network, participate in collective acts to always have an active support network. “And that has to be done from the time we are young adults. The older and later we start, the harder it becomes to commit,” he concluded.