Social interaction is important for getting and staying healthy. Older adults are at increased risk of being socially isolated or lonely. Many older adults live alone because either children and grandchildren may have moved away, family estrangement, aging siblings and friends, or person closest to them may have passed away. For older adults, and those with complex health conditions, social interaction offers many benefits. Research has shown that developing and nurturing interpersonal relationships and staying socially active can help older adults maintain good physical and emotional health and cognitive function. Older adults with close friendships, supportive family ties, or that interact socially in other ways live longer than those who are socially isolated.
Older adults with a seemingly large social network or active social life can still experience loneliness. For older adults, loneliness may be related to feelings of low self-esteem, depressive symptoms or distress over not having enough social relationships or not enough social interaction. As a result of both social isolation and prolonged feelings of loneliness patients can experience exacerbated health and deteriorated cognitive function.