What's loneliness got to do with it? Older women who use benzodiazepines

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Abstract

Aim:

We examined qualitative data from a larger study of benzodiazepine-using women older than 65 years, living in the United States, for subjective experiences of loneliness and social isolation.

Method:

Data from semistructured interviews with seven participants discussed aspects of social isolation or loneliness. Following a phenomenological design, data were coded and analysed for experiences.

Results:

Three themes emerged: ‘Dislike being alone’; ‘Loneliness and isolation’; and ‘Social isolation causes negative feelings’.

Conclusion:

Social isolation and loneliness are negative aspects of the lived experience for older benzodiazepine-using women and the loss of companions and transportation is important to this experience. Being isolated can cause depression, fear and insecurity. Future research should consider the role psychotropic medications have in coping with social isolation and loneliness among older adults. Clinicians should be aware of social isolation and loneliness in late life and discuss non-pharmacologic treatment options with their ageing patients.

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