Severe loneliness in community-dwelling aging adults with mental illness

J Psychiatr Pract. 2012 Jan;18(1):20-8. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000410984.15852.59.


Successful aging involves adapting to changing needs. The 2009 U.S. Census noted that 43% of adult Americans are single and that the oldest-old population is the most rapidly growing aging segment. Geriatric, lonely, hopeless individuals are at high risk for depression and suicide. Lonely individuals fail to adapt to their circumstances; and physical and mental illness place them at risk for neglect, morbidity, and mortality. The authors discuss the role of attachment in the individual's subjective experience of loneliness and suggest how attachment theory can be used to guide interventions to improve the individual's self-esteem, coping, and problem-solving abilities. This article also discusses the use of multimodal therapy, including psychodynamic, interpersonal, and cognitive-behavior therapy and coping skills training, to improve the individual's ability to adapt to the surrounding environment and to reintegrate into the community.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology
  • Affective Symptoms / therapy
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Support
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Suicide* / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Psychotropic Drugs