Longitudinal Assessment of the Relationships Between Geriatric Conditions and Loneliness

Kexin Yu, Shinyi Wu, Yuri Jang, Chih Ping Chou, Kathleen H. Wilber, María P. Aranda, Iris Chi

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8 Scopus citations


Objectives: In response to the lack of longitudinal evidence, this study aims to disentangle time sequence and directionality between the severity of geriatric conditions (GCs) and loneliness. Design: Longitudinal panel study. Setting and Participants: The working sample had 4680 participants of 2006, 2010, and 2014 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). All participants were at least 65 years old at baseline. Proxy responded cases and individuals who suffered from moderate to severe cognitive impairment were excluded from the analysis. Methods: Loneliness was measured with the 3-item UCLA loneliness scale. Five GCs were included: falls, incontinence, vision impairment, hearing impairment, and pain. Severity indicators were the number of times fallen in the past 2 years, number of days experiencing loss of bladder control in the past month, self-rated eyesight, self-rated hearing, and participants' perceived level of pain. Results: Random-intercept cross-lagged panel models were run to analyze the relationship between the severity of each individual GC and loneliness. All models were controlled for baseline demographics, social isolation, self-rated health, physical function, comorbidities, and hospitalization. The longitudinal association between loneliness and fall was bidirectional: a higher loneliness score predicted an increased number of falls and vice versa. Incontinence, vision impairment, hearing impairment, and pain were not significantly associated with loneliness longitudinally. The association between the random intercept of loneliness and some GCs (vision and pain) were significant, indicating the severity of these GCs were related to loneliness at the between-person level at baseline. Conclusion and Implications: Findings of the longitudinal analysis suggest a reciprocal relationship between fall and loneliness. Fall prevention programs could be integrated with social service for addressing loneliness, and alleviating loneliness might be beneficial for preventing falls. Results of this study highlight the importance of integrating clinical management of falls with social services addressing loneliness in long term care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1113.e1
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine


  • Reciprocal relationships
  • fall
  • geriatric syndrome
  • longitudinal analysis
  • random intercept cross-lagged panel model


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