Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Review and Commentary of a National Academies Report

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2020 Dec;28(12):1233-1244. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2020.08.005. Epub 2020 Aug 19.


The authors of this review both served on the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Committee that produced the report, "Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Opportunities for the Health Care System." In 2018, the AARP Foundation commissioned the National Academies to establish a committee to research and develop a report on social isolation and loneliness in persons 50 years of age and older. Emphasis was placed upon the role of the healthcare system in addressing this fundamental public health problem. The committee released the report in February 2020 as the Corona Virus Disease 2019 pandemic was beginning to spread to North America. In this review, the authors share central findings and conclusions from the report as well as how these findings may be relevant to the care and well-being of older adults during this historic pandemic. The health protective benefits of social distancing must be balanced by the essential need for sustaining social relationships.

Keywords: Social isolation; healthcare policy; loneliness; social connection; social integration; social support.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Loneliness*
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Social Isolation