This study examined the prevalence of loneliness among the oldest old within a 10-year period and studied the influence of various sociodemographic, social and health characteristics on loneliness.
The study used population-based data from the Umeå85+/GErontological Regional DAtabase-study (GERDA) for the years 2000-2002, 2005-2007 and 2010-2012 including 85-year-old, 90-year-old and ?95-year-old participants. A final sample of 304 participants in 2000-2002, 329 participants in 2005-2007 and 401 participants in 2010-2012 was included in the analyses.
Although the level of loneliness was already high in 2000-2002 (49.3% reported frequent loneliness), the results showed limited changes in loneliness during the 10-year study period. Loneliness was closely related to living alone, depressive symptoms and living in institutional settings.
Although societal changes such as solitary living and growing urbanization suggest a changing trend in loneliness, we found that the prevalence of loneliness was relatively stable in this study. Nevertheless, loneliness is common among the oldest old and a focus on social issues related to living arrangements and on depressive symptoms is important in understanding loneliness.