Earlier death among the elderly who live alone compared to those who live with others

Elderly Singaporeans who live alone are 1.7 times more likely to die prematurely than counterparts who live with others.
Elderly Singaporeans who live alone are 1.7 times more likely to die prematurely than counterparts who live with others.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Elderly Singaporeans who live alone are 1.7 times more likely to die prematurely than counterparts who live with others.

This was a finding by Associate Professor Ng Tze Pin, in the Gerontology Research Programme at the National University of Singapore, in a longitudinal ageing study that has been running from 2003 .

The study collected data from 2,553 elderly participants, 189 of whom lived alone. It followed them up to December 2011. A total of 227 of them died in the period.

Researchers said older Singaporeans who lived alone probably have more severe illness due to poor treatment, care and support because the data showed that they did not have more chronic diseases than those with lived with others.

"This was in part due to the lack or loss of a spouse, especially among men," said Prof Ng.

Men who lived alone were 2.8 times as likely to die prematurely than men who lived with others.

The study also found that elderly people who lived alone were almost twice as likely to be depressed or feel lonely, as compared to those who lived with others.

This is the first study on the mortality risk of elderly living alone that has been done in Singapore.

kxinghui@sph.com.sg