Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact. Social isolation is a lack of social connections. Social isolation can lead to loneliness in some people, while others can feel lonely without being socially isolated.

Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions

In this report from the CDC:

Loneliness and social isolation in older adults are serious public health risks affecting a significant number of people in the United States and putting them at risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions.

Social isolation was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia and other serious medical conditions.

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.

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.

Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact. Social isolation is a lack of social connections. Social isolation can lead to loneliness in some people, while others can feel lonely without being socially isolated.

The Danger of Social Isolation

Social isolation occurs when people withdraw and become disconnected from family, friends and community. Any number of changes that are common to aging can trigger this issue.

So perhaps it is not a surprise that nearly 1 in 5 Americans 65 and older are socially isolated, according to AARP Foundation. Research finds that this public health epidemic affects more than 8 million age 50-plus adults and is growing as 10,000 Americans a day turn 65.

Navigating Social Isolation and Loneliness as an Older Adult

The COVID-19 pandemic, demographic changes related to an aging population, and advancements in technology have increased awareness and interest in social isolation and loneliness, and also the protective factor of social connection. The more we understand about ways to combat social isolation and loneliness and foster social connection, the more we can help ourselves and others.

“As devastating as it has been, COVID-19 truly brought to light the issue of social isolation and loneliness especially among older adults—which in the past has often been overlooked,” said Carole Fisher, President of the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI).

An interesting article from the National Council on Aging on isolation and loneliness.

10 Steps for Healthy Aging

Living a healthy lifestyle becomes even more important for better aging. The things we do to keep body and heart healthy—nutritious diet, physical activity, and social connections – also can help promote brain health and wellness. Here are 10 steps for successful aging:

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America 322 Eighth Avenue, 16th Floor New York, NY 10001

Email: info@alzfdn.org

Loneliness and Social Isolation — Tips for Staying Connected (National Institute on Aging)

"Everyone needs social connections to survive and thrive. But as people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Being alone may leave older adults more vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation, which can affect their health and well-being. Studies show that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher risks for health problems such as heart disease, depression, and cognitive decline."

For some tips from the National Institute on Aging for staying connected: Loneliness and Social Isolation — Tips for Staying Connected | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov)

You Are Not Alone (Y.A.N.A.)

Being alone is one of the greatest fears senior adults have as they grow older. You Are Not Alone (YANA) is a program here in Maricopa that can save lives and help individuals with limited mobility.

NOTE: YANA is not an independent organization or service group as such, their services are provided by police volunteers through the Police Department. This is one of the best services available to seniors in the City of Maricopa. If interested in becoming part of this wonderful group, please contact the City of Maricopa Police Department about becoming a Police Volunteer.

This is a free service allowing older adults and individuals with limited mobility or who have suffered an accident or fallen sick, comfort and peace of mind knowing someone will be checking in on them on a regular basis; and in the event something happens, family or friends will be notified.

YANA Provides:

. Regular Phone Calls
. Planned Home-Visits
. Referrals to Community Resources

YANA Does Not Provide:

. Medical Assistance
. Transportation
. Labor
. Financial Assistance

You Are Not Alone works collaboratively with community and social service agencies for a coordinated response to meet the needs of residents in Maricopa with limited mobility.

Maricopa Police Department Volunteers will make regular telephone calls and visits to YANA participants. If the participant does not answer the phone after several attempts are made to reach them, a series of steps are followed to assure their safety and well-being.

If the above attempts fail and contact with the participant cannot be made, MPD officers are dispatched to check on the participants' well-being.


How do I enroll?

. You must be a resident of the City of Maricopa.
. You must have an Emergency Contact.
. You must be Generally Self-Sufficient.
. You must complete the Enrollment Form.


Alternatively, you may email your request to enroll in YANA at:


Main Office Hours: 7am-6pm, Mon-Thur

10 Ways to Avoid Loneliness and Maintain Mental Health When You Live Alone 

"f you’re an older adult, there are many reasons why you might be living alone: Perhaps your family lives far away or you’ve recently downsized or you’re emotionally attached to your home and want to stay there.

While an independent lifestyle can be enjoyable, there’s a potential downside to living alone: if you’re not engaging with others on a regular basis, it may lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-quarter of older adults report feeling socially isolated.1 The CDC has also found that social isolation can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, dementia and depression. It has been found to be as damaging to your health as smoking.1

The good news is that there are many ways to balance out those potential downsides. And they’re all about the simple act of interacting with other people."

This site is provided by United Healthcare to provide strategies to cope with loneliness when living alone.

Overcoming Loneliness in Seniors: Building a More Joyful Social Life

"Are you lonely? Roughly half of people over the age of 60 are at risk of social isolation. But it’s also possible to feel lonely in a sea of people. Loneliness is an emotion as much as it is a state, and about a third of seniors report feeling lonely. You might feel lonely when you’re physically isolated, but feeling misunderstood can also trigger loneliness. So, too, can one-sided, alienating or frustrating relationships. Loneliness in seniors is rapidly becoming an epidemic with very real health consequences."

"As you age, you may face new challenges in connecting to others. People may move away, and shared interests — children, a job — may no longer be relevant. You’ll have to find new ways to connect and discover new shared interests."

"For many older adults, though, loneliness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Loneliness damages your brain over time, depleting your motivation to pursue new relationships and eroding your social skills. You may feel less willing to seek out new relationships and then use the lack of those relationships as evidence that you’ll be lonely forever. If resentment sets in, your attempts to reach out to others may be alienating.

It’s a vicious cycle, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Loneliness in seniors is reversible at any and every age. You can build a more joyful, connected life no matter who you are and even if you’ve historically struggled in your relationships with others."

For more information, please check this article provided by HumanGood.


NOTE: HumanGood is the provider of Life Plan Communities. Even though this is a very useful tool, it is also a marketing tool for their company. HumanGood provides many useful articles and blogs related to aging well and I find them informative.

Loneliness, isolation can be a killer.

"Just as we need water, food and shelter, we need social connections and friendships to survive as well. Human beings have a basic drive for contact and intimacy with others. We are “social animals” even if we feel somewhat introverted, shy or fearful of new situations. Life’s challenges are better faced with social support.

Loneliness is the feeling of being alone even if one has social contact. Episodic periods of feeling alone are very normal. Most people experience the loneliness following the loss of a loved one, a move to a new city, or the breakup of a relationship. This isolation tends to be short lived and a time for grieving losses, building new relationships, and renewing established contacts.

Chronic loneliness is different. Social isolation, the lack of an adequate support system, poor or nonexistent family ties, an addiction to smartphones and the internet, and few (or no) friendships are all signs of loneliness. The “deficiency of relationships” can make a person feel sad and isolated."

For more information visit the attached link to this 2023 article written by Mia Smitt, a longtime nurse practitioner from the Tucson area.

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