According to the AARP Foundation, nearly 1 in 5 Americans 65 and older are socially isolated, and this public health epidemic affects more than 8 million age 50 plus adults. “Social isolation is a problem that receives relatively little attention and sustained focus, but it undermines the health and well-being of millions of older adults,” says AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson.
A study by professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith of Brigham Young University found that prolonged social isolation is as harmful to health as smoking 15
cigarettes a day, and is more harmful than obesity. Social isolation has been linked to higher blood pressure, greater susceptibility to the flu and other infectious diseases, and earlier onset of dementia.
Preventing and reducing loneliness could not only benefit the health and well-being of older adults, but could also have economic implications for a society with a rapidly growing older adult population.
Click here to learn how groups like AARP Foundation along with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Gerontological Society of America, Give an Hour, and UnitedHealth Group are helping older adults escape social isolation.