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Research Letter
Less Is More
July 26, 2021

Use of High-risk Medications Among Lonely Older Adults: Results From a Nationally Representative Sample

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
  • 2Geriatrics, Palliative, and Extended Care Service Line, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical, San Francisco, California
JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 26, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.3775

Loneliness, the emotional distress resulting from a discrepancy between one’s actual and desired level of social connection, is associated with physical and psychological symptoms in older adults, including pain, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.1 The relationship of loneliness to these symptoms is likely bidirectional; in some situations it acts as a risk factor for the symptoms and in others it is the consequence of symptoms. In either case, lonely older adults may be at risk for using high-risk medications commonly prescribed for physical or psychological symptoms.2 Our objective was therefore to investigate the relationship between loneliness and high-risk medication use.2 A better understanding of this relationship might inform strategies for addressing symptoms and deprescribing potentially risky medications through the use of nonpharmacologic, social interventions.

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