As the population ages in the United States and around the world, social isolation of older adults, especially older adults who live alone, is a crucial challenge that requires attention. Community and social support programs are essential means to address this challenge. However, technology-based solutions should be considered to supplement or augment these methods to help ensure that older adults remain connected to their friends, family, and community.
The sizeable portion of older adults living alone is alarming given the harmful effects of social isolation – a reduction in social connectedness as measured by satisfaction derived from social ties – can have on the health of older people. Social isolation is associated with negative health effects including chronic health conditions, a weakened immune system, and depression and anxiety. Having services and supports in place to meet the needs of older adults living alone and experiencing the harmful effects of social isolation is vital.