General Article Loneliness and social isolation in later life

Topic Selected: Ageing Book Volume: 378

Loneliness is not, and should not be, an inevitable part of getting older. However, many older people do experience loneliness and social isolation, which are linked to a range of health problems.

Who is at risk?

  • Loneliness can occur at any point in life, and its intensity can vary across the life course.
  • Risk of loneliness is not driven by age, but by people’s circumstances.
  • Older people might experience a number of circumstances that can increase the risk of loneliness and social isolation. 


  • Some older people are reluctant to join groups explicitly targeting loneliness, groups that are dominated by one gender and groups that target older people only.
  • Older LGBT people may be at risk of loneliness as they are more likely to be single, live alone and have lower levels of contact with relatives.
  • Older people from ethnic minority groups may experience ‘overlooked’ loneliness due to language barriers, poverty, and assumptions that they live in ‘traditional’ family structure...

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