As people get older, they have a higher chance of having disabilities. People that already have one or more disabilities may face more concerns. Social isolation and loneliness increase the risk of mental health concerns.
Social isolation means that someone is having very few social contacts or connections. When people do not have enough social connections, they may feel loneliness.
There is an overlap between loneliness and social isolation. Still, a person can also be happy with few social contacts, or feel lonely even if they are not socially isolated.
Being socially isolated and feeling loneliness leads to negative physical and mental health outcomes. It can increase depression, illness, and mortality. It may also lower reported happiness and well-being.
Social activities help increase the quality of life and reduces depression risk in an aging population. But when someone cannot leave their home or have visitors, there are other ways to connect. Phone calls, sending a card or letter, video calls, and engaging in enjoyable hobbies can also support a better quality of life.
Read the full Mental Health Among Older Adults with Disabilities fact sheet