A Snapshot of Isolation
John is 82 years old and lives alone in his suburban home. He no longer drives and finds it increasingly difficult to get around due to severe arthritis. John’s daughter visits once a week to take him shopping. Although he appreciates his daughter’s visits, John feels lonely and would like to get out to see his friends at the VFW hall. He doesn’t like spending so much time alone.
What is Isolation?
6.7 million, or 17%, of adults aged 65 and older are isolated (www.Connect2Affect.org). There are two components of isolation – social isolation and loneliness. Social isolation is the lack of connection with other people, one’s community, and resources and supports. Loneliness is the feeling of being isolated and alone. Loneliness is feeling alone whereas isolation is being alone.
Many Factors Can Increase Risk of Isolation
- Living alone
- Mobility challenges
- Chronic illnesses and disabilities
- Transportation barriers
- Limited social support systems
- Living in unsafe, inaccessible or rural communities
- Low income and limited financial resources
- Cognitive and mental health challenges
- Language barriers
- Age, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and/or gender identity barriers
- Caregiving for someone with a serious condition
Source: AARP Foundation, May 2012. Framework for Isolation in Adults Over 50
Social Isolation is a Serious Health Issue
- Growing evidence shows that isolation is a major health issue like diabetes or obesity and negatively impacts the health and wellbeing of seniors.
- Isolation may also place seniors at increased risk for abuse, neglect and exploitation.
- One study has linked the health risks of ongoing isolation with smoking 15 cigarettes daily.
Source: Cornwell, Waite (2009). Social Disconnectedness, Perceived Isolation, and Health Among Older Adults.
Source: Holt, Lunstad (2015). Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality.
Get and Stay Connected!
AgeGuide is actively working with Illinois Area Agencies on Aging and the Department on Aging on a coordinated strategy to combat social isolation. Stay tuned as we continue to expand resources and begin new initiatives to prevent social isolation and promote a positive quality of life for all!
Get Connected to Services and Resources in Your Community:
Senior Nutrition Programs
Eldercare Locator: Expand Your Circles – Prevent Isolation and Loneliness As You Age