Social isolation and loneliness among older people

DESCRIPTION

Publication Date: 2021

Published By: World Health Organization

Description: Social isolation and loneliness among older people are growing public health and public policy concerns which have been made more salient by the COVID-19 pandemic. Social isolation and loneliness among older people are widespread. For instance, 20–34% of older people in China, Europe, Latin America, and the United States of America are lonely. Social isolation and loneliness are harmful. They shorten older people’s lives, and damage their mental and physical health and quality of life.

But they can be reduced:

  • Through face-to-face or digital interventions such as cognitive behaviour therapy, social skills training and befriending;
  • By improving infrastructure (e.g. transport, digital inclusion, built environment) and promoting age-friendly communities;
  • Through laws and policies to address, for instance, ageism, inequality and the digital divide.

This advocacy brief describes how strategies for reducing social isolation and loneliness among older people should aim to:

  • Implement and scale up effective interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness;
  • Improve research and strengthen the evidence for what works; and
  • Create a global coalition to increase the political priority of social isolation and loneliness among older people.
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