Why it Matters

Loneliness and Social Isolation in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan: An International Survey 
The Kaiser Family Foundation in partnership with the Economist recently released an international survey which outlines the prevalence of and how people view the issues of loneliness and social isolation. One key finding is that while some respondents view technology as contributing to these issues, others see social media as contributing to connections.

Rural Aging: Health and Community Policy Implications for Reversing Social Isolation
The report from a roundtable discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) titled “Rural Aging: Health and Community Policy Implications for Reversing Social Isolation” in Washington, D.C., on June 7, 2018.  The report provides a definition of social isolation, an analysis of the impact isolation has on older adults in rural areas and a discussion on action oriented solutions.

The Power of Connection Reversing Social isolation in Rural America
The recent report outlines the incidence and impact of social isolation in rural areas and continues work begun by Tivity Health in 2017. The report includes findings from a survey of older adults living in rural communities and describes steps that can be taken to encourage policymakers to address social isolation—and opportunities for the creation of public-private partnerships and other actions to reduce social isolation.

 The report was presented at the Tivity 2018 Connectivity Summit on Rural Aging. Sandy Markwood, CEO of n4a is a member of the Rural Aging Advisory Council.

Further Research

Harvard Study of Adult Development
Over 80 years ago, a NIH funded study began to track the health of 268 Harvard sophomores.  This study had continued to track both the original cohort of whom few are still alive, while also adding their offspring and a control group of Boston inner-city residents.

 “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”

To learn more about this important study and to view an interesting Ted Talk by Dr. Robert Waldinger the current Director of the study click here.

Volunteer for your Health
A new study released by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), provides evidence that consistent volunteering can improve the health and well-being of people age 55 and older. The study examined how participation in national service contributes to changes in health and well-being of Senior Corps volunteers. A companion study explored the health benefits to caregivers who receive support from Senior Corps Senior Companion volunteers.

Shared Sites are Smart Solutions
The recently released “All In Together: Creating Places Where Young And Old Thrive” report from Generations United and The Eisner Foundation includes the findings of two national surveys, profiles of model programs and recommendations for how we can increase the number of the intergenerational shared sites.  The report provides case studies and recommendations that illustrate how shared sites as an approach primed to remedy can remedy isolations and loneliness in older adults. Greater awareness of the potential of shared sites can create new environments to confront ageism, break down the barriers of age-segregation and forge long-lasting and life-changing intergenerational bonds.

2016 AARP Social Engagement and Brain Health Survey
An AARP study conducted in 2016 which examines the relationship between social engagement, isolation, and loneliness and brain health, physical health and mental well-being in adults 40+.

How can you measure loneliness?
The Campaign to End Loneliness works throughout the United Kingdom to reduce the impact of loneliness on people of all ages.  One resource that has been developed addresses various approaches for measuring loneliness in individuals. To read or download their guide on “Measuring Your Impact on Loneliness in Later Life” visit this website.

Medicare Spends More on Socially Isolated Older Adults
“Medicare Spends More on Socially Isolated Older Adults”, an AARP Public Policy Institute report from 2017, that outlines the relationship between social isolation and Medicare spending.