Recent new stories have reported about research suggesting loneliness can affect the quality of life and quantity of years. One study from the Archives of Internal Medicine says that even feeling lonely may increase the risk of premature death. One study of nearly 45,000 people said those who lived alone were more likely to die of heart attack and stroke than those who had companionship. Being alone increased the risk of heart issues and death by 24 percent among people ages 45 to 65 and by 12 percent among people ages 66 to 80.

There may be some simple explanation for this. For instance, a contributing factor may well be that people who live alone don't eat well and don't have a person reminding them to take their medicine, but that is not the whole story. A second study suggests that even feeling lonely has a negative effect on health. This study focused on people 60 and older and revealed that men and women were 45 percent more likely to die during the time frame that was studied if they reported feeling lonely. It also reported that people who felt lonely were not always literally alone. This all suggests a part the church community can play in helping people be healthier and happier.