Covid-19 measures could worsen excess mortality in nursing homes
Friday, 21 August 2020
The excess mortality in Flemish nursing homes could be partially due to isolation and loneliness as a result of Covid-19 measures, according to the website Gezondheid en Wetenschap (Health and Science).
The website refers to an American study which shows that loneliness increases the risk of premature death by 26 to 32 percent.
The study provided an overview of all studies on the impact of loneliness on the risk of premature death published between 1980 and 2014. It contains data on more than 3.4 million people from 70 studies, which were followed up for an average of 7 years. The researchers only used data from people who were healthy at the start of the study.
In people who felt lonely, early mortality was 26% higher than in people from a comparable control group. For those who had hardly any social contacts, the figure rose to 29% and for those who lived alone to 32%.
According to Marleen Finoulst of Gezondheid en Wetenschap, the fact that almost 400 more nursing home residents died during the recent heat wave in Flanders than usual at this time of year and much more than during the heat wave of 2018 may also be due to loneliness and isolation.
“The large number of data in the study and the fact that people were in good health at the start reinforces the link between loneliness and premature death. Perhaps it is not just living alone that causes premature death, but the increased risk of an unhealthy lifestyle. In the case of rest home residents, this may be due to insufficient drinking during the heat,” she said.