Social Isolation

“I still think that the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, just having no one… that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.”   – Mother Teresa

Social Isolation, defined as the lack of social contact and support, is being increasingly recognized as a major public health issue, especially among senior citizens.  Research has shown social isolation causes increases in mortality that is comparable to obesity, cigarette smoking and elevated risks of developing coronary heart disease and stroke. (Holt- Lundstad, 2015)  In addition, older adults suffering from social isolation have greater difficulty maintaining their independence, therefore, causing higher utilization of medications, accident and emergency services and higher incidence of falls and early entry into residential and nursing care.   

In 2018, The Center for Population Health at Cheshire Medical Center sponsored two deliberative dialogues , “Social Isolation and Loneliness,” where stakeholders in the Monadnock Region  came together to learn, discuss and problem solve possible solutions to the issue. The issue brief used for those events, an article on Deliberative Dialogue, and a link to a number of scholarly articles, reports and media articles can be found here:

2018 Center for Population Health Deliberative Dialogue Brief

Social Isolation Facilitation Guide

From Dialogue to Action: Addressing Social Isolation and Loneliness in Seniors

Thinking Together: The Power of Deliberative Dialogue by Scott London

Additional Resources