Interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older people

Loneliness and social isolation are major problems for older adults. Interventions and activities aimed at reducing social isolation and loneliness are widely advocated as a solution to this growing problem.

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The aim of this study was to conduct an integrative review to identify the range and scope of interventions that target social isolation and loneliness among older people, to gain insight into why interventions are successful and to determine the effectiveness of those interventions.

Six electronic databases were searched from 2003 until January 2016 for literature relating to interventions with a primary or secondary outcome of reducing or preventing social isolation and/or loneliness among older people.

The review identified 38 studies. A range of interventions were described which relied on differing mechanisms for reducing social isolation and loneliness. The majority of interventions reported some success in reducing social isolation and loneliness, but the quality of evidence was generally weak.

Factors which were associated with the most effective interventions included adaptability, a community development approach, and productive engagement.

A wide range of interventions have been developed to tackle social isolation and loneliness among older people. However, the quality of the evidence base is weak and further research is required to provide more robust data on the effectiveness of interventions. Furthermore, there is an urgent need to further develop theoretical understandings of how successful interventions mediate social isolation and loneliness.

Gardiner, C.  Geldenhuys, G.  Gott, M | Interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older people: an integrative review | Health and Social Care in the Community | Volume26, Issue2 | March 2018 | pages 147-157

Museums fight the isolation and pain of Dementia

Carol Rogers, Executive Director, Education and Visitors, National Museums Liverpool shares her personal reflections on how a museum-led dementia awareness programme is challenging social isolation and changing lives:

“I knew by her eye contact, by her squeezing of my hand, that she gained great pleasure from having that experience. It was interactive, it was personal. It got right to the hub of Margaret’s life story.”

Full article: ‘Museums Fight the Isolation and Pain of Dementia‘ | NY Times

Health and Care without boundaries

Health and Care without boundaries | NHS England

When the NHS and local government work together residents quality of life improve. Wealden District Council and Herstmonceux GP John Simmons worked together to secure a health and wellbeing coach based at the GP surgery; reducing repeat visits by 61%. The scheme is now being expanded thanks to the local CCG.

NHS England has produced a short film which follows Angela, who was widowed around 18 months ago. Isolation soon followed, but through this scheme she has reconnected with others and now has the confidence to better manage her long term conditions.