Osteoarthritis may be an important factor in increasing social isolation, especially in the elderly, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The researchers used data from 2942 adults aged 65 to 85 from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and the United Kingdom. Half of the participants were women and 30% of the participants had arthritis.
The data mainly concerned questionnaires addressed to the participants with questions regarding their social connections and how many times they met friends or family. The researchers noted that the participants in the survey at least risk of social isolation were the younger ones, with higher incomes and higher education levels. The latter also showed greater chances of being more physically active, having a better level of walking and generally of better health.
However, they noted that of the 1585 survey participants who were not initially considered socially isolated, 13% became socially isolated from 12 to 18 months later and above all this occurred parallel to the increase in arthrosis and related pain. This led these patients to be less visually active, to have a worse walking time, to have a greater risk of depression and more problems in making decisions.
According to the researchers, arthrosis increases the risk of social isolation as well as increasing the risk of other diseases. And given that the same social isolation can worsen general health, researchers believe that older people who suffer from arthritis could benefit more than others from participating in social activities.