Social Isolation and Loneliness in Seniors

In the United States, about 28% of older people aged 65 are lonely and socially isolated. Loneliness is the feeling of being alone despite social interactions. Social loneliness is the loss of interactions or limited connection with people and society. Older people are more susceptible to loneliness and social isolation. The reason could be the loss of loved ones, illness, or hearing loss. The risk factors for loneliness and social isolation include dispersal of family, disability, inability to work because of weakness, death of loved ones, low income, poor health, and decreased physical activity (1). 

Human beings require social interaction to survive in this world. We make friends, build connections, and enjoy our lives. As we mature, our attachment to society becomes lost and we may begin to feel lonely and socially isolated. Older people experience this loneliness and social isolation more than younger adults.

Health Risks Associated with Social Isolation and Loneliness:

According to the CDC, Covid-19 has also affected older people and increased the frequency of loneliness and social isolation in older people. As older people become more isolated from society, the chances for health risks increase. The primary health risks associated with loneliness and social isolation are the following:

  • Heart Diseases and Stroke: According to a survey, the socially isolated people aged 70 are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke. In the United States, higher rates of stroke and heart attack were observed in older people with loneliness (2).
  • Cognitive Decline & Dementia: Many observational studies have demonstrated that older people have dementia and cognitive decline because of increased loneliness and less socially attracted to people. Infrequent social interaction is highly associated with dementia. A study reported that the chances of dementia increase by 50% due to these risk factors (3).
  • Anxiety & Depression: A study in Germany reported that older individuals developed depression, anxiety, suicidal attempts due to loneliness and social isolation. Both older men and women were at greater risk of depression (4).
  • Other Health Risks: Some other health risks are also the outcomes of loneliness. They include obesity, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and a very immune system. These risks are increasing day by day because of the loneliness of adult people.

How to Reduce Loneliness in Older People:

Here are some ways through with older people can overcome their loneliness and social isolation (6):

  • Always Smile: Even in hard times, always try to smile. Start a conversation with someone by smiling. For example, if you buy anything from a shop, you should always smile at the cashier. Try to start a conversation by telling them about you or asking about themselves. 
  • Invite your friends to lunch or dinner: Whenever you feel lonely, send an invitation to your friends, family, and neighbors to come to visit you. If you want to see your friends, you should go to visit them. They would indeed be happy. 
  • Join local community activities: Community activities include book shops, clubs, food parties, and walking groups. You must join them and interact with people to reduce your loneliness. 
  • Help the poor: Always try to help others with money, food, and books. You can also give someone your knowledge about something important. 
  • Request companion care services: Companion care services are for people who live independently but require occasional well-check visits and some assistance with activities of daily living. Good companion care should provide ample social interaction. Many caregivers at other agencies use their time to talk on the phone. 

The Bottom Line:

We understand the frustration of hiring caregivers who do nothing but sit on their cellphone. At Radiant Health Services, our caregivers are happy to do any number of social activities include watching a movie together, playing brain-stimulating board games, or running errands together. Our caregivers are always alert and working to make your day as enjoyable as possible. If you or someone you know may be interested in home care service, give us a call.


  1. Fakoya OA, McCorry NK, Donnelly M. Loneliness and social isolation interventions for older adults: a scoping review of reviews. BMC Public Health. 2020;20(1):129.
  2. Valtorta NK, Kanaan M, Gilbody S, Hanratty B. Loneliness, social isolation and risk of cardiovascular disease in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2018;25(13):1387–96.
  3. Penninkilampi R, Casey AN, Singh MF, Brodaty H. The Association between Social Engagement, Loneliness, and Risk of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Alzheimer’s Dis. 2018;66(4):1619–33.
  4. Choi NG, DiNitto DM. Role of new diagnosis, social isolation, and depression in older adults’ smoking cessation. Gerontologist. 2015;55(5):793–801.
  5. Wu B. Social isolation and loneliness among older adults in the context of COVID-19: a global challenge. Glob Heal Res Policy. 2020;5(1):154–6.
  6. Landeiro F, Barrows P, Nuttall Musson E, Gray AM, Leal J. Reducing social isolation and loneliness in older people: A systematic review protocol. BMJ Open. 2017;7(5):1–5.
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