AARP Foundation provides help and advice for those most at risk for social isolation

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Even before the pandemic, nearly 1 in 4 older adults were socially isolated due to factors like physical isolation due to lack of transportation or mobility issues, health impacts like depression or cognitive decline, the loss of a job or retirement, and/or the loss of a spouse.

During the pandemic, AARP Foundation and UnitedHealth Foundation conducted a study that found 2 out of 3 adults and 2 out of 5 older adults (50+) said they were suffering from social isolation. In addition, 41% reported feeling more anxious than usual, and more than one-third of all adults felt depressed.

As COVID cases rise and the realization that the pandemic’s end may not yet be in sight, many older adults might still be experiencing social isolation and the negative effects that accompany it. In fact, studies have found that isolation and loneliness are worse for health than obesity, and the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

As part of its mission to aid our society’s most vulnerable older adults, AARP Foundation is releasing a first-of-its-kind tool that maps older adults’ risk of facing social isolation across the United States. Analyzing publicly available data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources, a county’s Social Isolation Risk Score is a composite measure of six risk factors in adults aged 65 and older, including whether or not residents: live in poverty; live alone; are divorced, separated or widowed; never married; have a disability; and have difficulty with independent living. 

AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect.org website provides information and strategies to help people who are socially isolated or living alone, including the new social isolation map and a risk assessment test

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