Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss.
What is Social Isolation?
According to the AARP Foundation more than 8,000,000 adults aged 50 and older are affected by isolation. Social isolation is an objective lack of meaningful and sustained communication. Recent research has identified the health implications of not being socially engaged. Becoming more socially engaged can decrease the risk of:
- Heart Disease and Stroke,
- Depression, Anxiety and Suicide,
- Hospitalization and Emergency Department Visits and,
- Loneliness, which is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact.
Putting Social Isolation and Loneliness Together
- Social isolation can lead to loneliness in some people, while others can feel lonely without being socially isolated.
- The health risks associated with prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Social Engagement Self-Assessment
This assessment, the Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-6), is a validated tool designed to measure social isolation risk by measuring the number and frequency of social contacts with family and friends. This brief, six question assessment can be self-administered. Scores of 0-12 suggest that an individual is at-risk for social isolation. Scores of 13-30 suggest stronger social connectedness.