Understanding Social Isolation & Its Risks
While not everyone who is ‘isolated’ can be considered lonely, anyone limited in their ability to establish and sustain their desired connections with others is at risk of loneliness and depression. When this occurs, individuals are at greater risk of poor health outcomes including impaired mental function, increased risk for chronic disease, and lower disease immunity.
Common risk factors include:
- Lack of emotional, mental or financial resources to satisfy social needs;
- Lack of an active and reliable social circle;
- Living alone;
- Loss of mobility and/or decline in functional ability;
- Negative impacts of chronic health conditions;
- Lack of access to community resources and services;
- Socioeconomic status;
- Impact of major life transitions;
- Being a caregiver for someone with severe impairment.
To this last point, unpaid/family caregivers are almost 10% more likely to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation than non-caregivers.
Here are some additional resources that may help with your understanding of these topics
- National Institute on Aging – Health risks associated with social isolation.
- National Library of Medicine – Preventing social isolation in older people.
- AARP – Social Isolation: Symptoms, preventions and treatments.