Social Isolation Among Seniors Poses Serious Health Risks

Author: Debbie Humphrey

Florida is a melting pot of various cultures, and our population is primarily comprised of retirees and aging adults who have chosen to live their golden years in paradise! Our warm, sunny climate is perfect for year-round golf and beach excursions, and myriad options to support an active lifestyle.

Unfortunately, many seniors are unable to get out and about as freely as others, and they tend to be more socially isolated. This is problematic because social isolation among seniors poses serious health risks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) points out that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.1 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.”

In as much as loneliness and social isolation can be difficult to quantify, the CDC says studies indicate there is evidence that adults aged 50+ who are socially isolated are at risk of the following health conditions:

  • Premature Death. Social isolation significantly increased the risk of premature death more than smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
  • Dementia. Social isolation was associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia.
  • Heart Disease and Stroke. Social isolation and loneliness was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
  • Mental Health. Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Heart Failure. Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization and 57% increased risk of emergency room visits.

So, what can we do to help prevent social isolation and loneliness among seniors and reduce health risks? There are several community resources the CDC and I recommend:

AARP – American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), provides helpful information to improve the quality of life of seniors, as well as access to helpful community connection tools.

Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas – Our local Area Agency on Aging provides information and assistance with programs including nutrition and meal programs (counseling and home-delivered or group meals), caregiver support, and more.

National Council on Aging – Works with nonprofit organizations, governments, and businesses to provide community programs and services. This is the place to find what senior programs are available to assist with healthy aging and financial security, including the Aging Mastery Program® that is shown to increase social connectedness and healthy eating habits.

National Institute on Aging – Provides materials on social isolation and loneliness for older adults, caregivers, and health care providers. Materials include health information, a print publication available to view or order no-cost paper copies, a health care provider flyer, and social media graphics and posts.

Community Warriors – Our collaboration of Community Warrior Power Partners complements each other beautifully! We all offer vital services to seniors and their families in order to positively impact their lives in so many important ways.

Home Helpers® – Home Helpers® is a locally owned, trusted provider of quality, compassionate in-home care in Clearwater, and we customize our home care program to your unique situation for an affordable solution that keeps your loved one where they are happiest: at home.

Please remember, if you or a senior loved one is experiencing social isolation and loneliness and you notice signs of anxiety, depression, or other mental or physical conditions, I strongly encourage you to speak with a doctor as soon as possible! I also suggest that you reach out to the local and national resources available for ways to improve their quality of life.

A Home Helpers® professional caregiver can provide companionship and assistance with in-home care services that can make life easier and more enjoyable, too. I am happy to offer a FREE Consultation to assess specific needs and create a personalized care plan to help.

We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2016-2022 and the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2022. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539




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