Five things to know about loneliness in older adults

Loneliness, an emotional state rather than a mental disorder, can substantially affect the health of older adults, as well as use of health care services. A “Five things to know about …” practice article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) summarizes key points to help clinicians understand the effect of loneliness on older patients.

Loneliness is

  • an emotional state of perceived isolation
  • common in older adults and linked to declines in health
  • as harmful as other risk factors for death, such as obesity and smoking
  • a significant predictor of health care usage
  • possibly alleviated by “social prescribing” to connect lonely adults with community supports and social networks

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