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Living alone may be bad for your health, studies say

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The impact of living alone weighs on more than your pocketbook.

(Photo: Patrick Doheny/Flickr)

More and more adults are choosing to live alone. In cities like New York and San Francisco, the percentage of homes occupied by just one person climbs to 40 percent, according to New York University Professor Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.

The impact of living alone weighs on more than your pocketbook. According to a pair of studies conducted by the Archives of Internal Medicine, loneliness may increase your risk of premature death.

The first study, which tracked 44,573 adults over the age of 45, found that those who suffered from heart disease or a predisposition for heart disease were more likely to pass away than those who lived with family, friends, or a similar communal arrangement. The second study, tracking 1,604 participants with an median age of 71, concluded that loneliness was a predictor for health declines.

While these studies prove important for the broad population, they're particularly striking for senior citizens. As Klinenberg noted in a May 8 piece for TIME magazine, the rate of older Americans living alone is similar to their younger counterparts. Nearly one-third percent of elderly Americans live by themselves. Among those over the age of 85, this figure climbs to 40 percent.

While supportive spouses, family members, and vibrant communities can help assuage feelings of isolation, access to these resources is not available to everyone. Some live far from family members; for others, the cost of high-quality senior housing is prohibitively expensive. Assisted living now costs an average of $3,300 per month, according to AssistedLivingFacilities.org. For those who need additional services, costs can be even higher.

What is the answer to this conundrum? Klinenberg suggests investing in low-cost housing for seniors. What are your thoughts? Weigh in below.

[CNN]

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Claire Lambrecht

Contributing Writer

Claire Lambrecht has written for the New York Times, Slate, Salon, The Nation, and CBS MoneyWatch. Previously, she taught English as a Teach for America Corps Member and Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. She holds degrees from Cornell University, the University of Hawaii, and the Arthur M. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure