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Older woman sitting alone

People are naturally social beings, but according to the National Academies of Science, one-fourth of adults 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. What is the difference between social isolation and loneliness? Social isolation is when a person has few contacts or connections whereas loneliness is feeling alone or separated from others even in a crowd.

Risk Factors

Risk factors associated with isolation can include the following:

  • Limited financial resources
  • Inability to drive
  • Lack of public transportation
  • Living alone
  • Multiple health conditions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported that poor social relationships increased the risk of heart disease by 29 percent, stroke by 32 percent, and dementia by 50 percent. Both social isolation and loneliness can put senior adults at a higher risk of cognitive decline, depression, obesity, premature death, and hypertension as well.

What You Can Do

There are some things people can do to overcome social isolation or loneliness.

  • Attend an Alabama Extension event. Check out calendar events to find an activity near you.
  • Attend virtual or in-person educational opportunities presented by the Virginia Caples Lifelong Learning Institute for older adults.
  • Join your local senior center.
  • Have lunch with friends.
  • Visit with your grandchildren or other family members.
  • Volunteer at the school, faith-based organization, or community group.
  • Join your local YMCA or other fitness program in your community.
  • Public libraries and community centers also have programs for senior adults.

View the eldercare locator or call 1-800-677-1116.

For More Information

For more information, visit the Older Adults section of the Alabama Extension website.