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Alone and at Risk

Staying in touch is good for your health

Isolation; alone and at risk; health; family; friends

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Here's a lifesaving health tip: Add "spend time with family and friends" to your to-do list. Research shows that social detachment — having few close relationships — is as bad for you as smoking and worse than obesity. Older adults can become isolated by life situations such as lack of transportation, landing this issue squarely on AARP Foundation's radar screen.

To learn more about solitary Americans, the foundation sent surveys last spring to select AARP Foundation Tax-Aide sites, focusing on the ones more likely to serve a less engaged population.* Ten percent of the 15,000 people who returned the two-page questionnaire reported they had trouble "staying connected" with family, friends and neighbors. Next steps for AARP Foundation: learning how to help repair and strengthen the broken links.

*Site selection was based primarily on U.S. Census data (percentage of people age 65-plus living alone, with disabilities, and percentage of those 60-plus living in rural areas). Findings are not generalizable to the general U.S. population nor to the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide taxpayer population.

Also of interest: 7 things to know about isolation.

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Isolation in the

Training Elderly in Social Media Improves Well-Being and Combats Isolation

(Medical Xpress, Dec. 2014) Training older people in the use of social media improves cognitive capacity, increases a sense of self-competence and could have a beneficial overall impact on mental health and well-being. Read

Blog: 20 Facts About Senior Isolation That Will Stun You

(, Oct. 2014) - Feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to serious consequences for senior health. Understanding the causes and risk factors for senior isolation can help us prevent it. Read

Seniors Share Homes for Cost Saving, Companionship

(ABC News, July 2014) - Thousands of aging Americans take part in home-sharing programs that allow seniors to stay in their homes and save money while getting some much-needed companionship. Read

Study: Internet Usage Lowers Rates of Depresssion Among Older Adults

(WP, May 2014) - The Washington Post reports a new study on the affect of Internet usage on the emotional state of adults over 50 years old found that rates of depression were lower among those who regularly browse the Web. Read