Social isolation among older people in urban areas

A review of the literature for GMCVO-led programme, Ambition for Ageing, by Tine Buffel, Samuèle Rémillard-Boilard and Chris Phillipson

Key Messages:

1. Social isolation is a term referring to the absence of contact with other people.

2. Social isolation and loneliness are two distinct concepts. Social isolation refers to an absence of or limited contacts whereas loneliness is associated with a subjective perception in which a person feels lonely.

3. Although older people are particularly vulnerable to loss of friends and family, mobility or income, the experience of social isolation and loneliness fluctuates over the years. Addressing social isolation therefore necessitates the planning of preventative strategies at all stages of the life course.

4. Research shows that people with adequate social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival compared to those with poor or insufficient social relationships.

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