Published – 8/25/2022
Reviewed By: Deidre Sommerer, LPN, MS, CMC, CDP.

According to a report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), nearly 25% of adults aged 65 and older are considered lonely and socially isolated.

Unfortunately, stay-at-home orders and physical distancing regulations put in place in states across the U.S. in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 made matters worse for a lot of senior citizens. In fact, dozens of studies have shown that physical and social distancing had severe negative effects on mental and physical health in individuals aged 60 and older.

Regardless of whether social isolation stems from COVID-19 restrictions or other circumstances, the effects are generally the same. In addition to mental health problems including anxiety and depression, socially isolated seniors may also experience physical symptoms including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Weakening immune system
  • Appetite changes
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive decline

Research has shown that isolation and loneliness, particularly when resulting in physical stress, can increase the risk of greater health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease, or even death in some cases. 

In this guide, you’ll find information about senior groups that are most at risk for isolation and health information for those experiencing it. You’ll also find resources and organizations across the United States that help isolated and lonely seniors.

Senior Groups Facing the Highest Isolation Risk

While all seniors may face isolation at some point in their lives, there are some groups that are more likely to face loneliness and isolation. 

Seniors in Long-Term Care

Social isolation and loneliness is relatively common among seniors living in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. While opportunities for socialization are abundant in these communities, as many as 42% of long-term care residents experience severe loneliness or isolation.

Prior to COVID-19, isolated long-term care residents typically reported feelings of loneliness resulting from a lack of visits with family members or spouses, as well as difficulties making new friends upon moving into their facility. As COVID-19 restrictions began to affect seniors in long-term care, opportunities for families to visit were eliminated and resident social activities were canceled, which resulted in increased isolation among long-term care populations.


Many veterans struggle to adapt to civilian life once their service is complete. According to data published by Pew Research Center, 53% of veterans who faced traumatic experiences during their time in the military have a difficult time transitioning to civilian life, while 66% of those with post-traumatic stress disorder report the same. Unfortunately for some, time doesn’t make the transition any easier, leaving some feeling incapable of fostering healthy relationships with family members, friends or health care workers. This inability to develop and nurture relationships can create severe loneliness and isolation for veterans that continue well into their senior years. 


The American Immigration Council states that as of 2019, more than 44.9 million Americans had immigrated from other countries and of the 54.1 million seniors living in the U.S., an estimated 13.1% are immigrants.

For some immigrants, isolation can be blamed on language and customs barriers while for others, it’s the result of feeling overwhelmed by making new friends in an unfamiliar place.

LGBTQ+ Persons

Unfortunately, older generations weren’t raised to be accepting of LGBTQ+ persons and while society has come a long way in realizing the wrongs done against LGBTQ+ persons in the past, those who identify as a member of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other non-hetero/non-cisgender communities continue to face discrimination in our society. 

For those in older generations, particularly those aged 50 and above, that can result in reduced access to healthcare, housing, social support and home assistance services, as well as difficulties fitting into peer groups and clubs. 

Seniors with Chronic Illnesses or Disabilities

Social isolation and loneliness have long been linked to chronic illness and disability, and the reasons for this are abundant. And for those living with multiple chronic diseases, the risk of isolation grows.

Reasons that seniors living with chronic illnesses or disabilities commonly feel isolated include: 

  • Inability to participate in the same activities as peers 
  • Symptoms such as fatigue, depression, pain or nausea may prevent socialization
  • Feelings that one may not have long to live may prevent them from making new friends or caring for the relationships they already have

Seniors Living in Poverty

Whether living at home, in a shelter or on the streets, seniors who live in poverty may have severe feelings of loneliness and isolation. For some, such feelings may stem from difficulties accessing necessary services and resources within the community and affording social activities in which peers are participating. 

Social isolation affects more than just seniors’ social lives. It can also have detrimental effects on their mental and physical health. Although some seniors do enjoy living a quiet life away from friends and family members, those who are forced into it due to health conditions, discrimination or other reasons may find themselves facing unpleasant mental and physical symptoms. 

Mental Health Effects

Mental health problems commonly occur in those who are living in isolation or experiencing severe feelings of loneliness. Psychological symptoms that often occur alongside isolation include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Confused or disorganized thought
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of anger or fear
  • Withdrawing from opportunities to socialize
  • Substance abuse

Physical Health Effects

In some cases, isolation can lead to physical health problems. Symptoms that may be associated with loneliness and isolation include: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Poor immunity
  • Fatigue

Risk Factors of Isolation and Loneliness

Further to the aforementioned symptoms, risk factors of isolation and loneliness among seniors include an increased prevalence of diseases such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Additionally, mortality rates have been shown to be higher among seniors who live in isolation.

Organizations Offering Assistance to Isolated Seniors

Across the United States, there are several organizations that are committed to helping older adults and seniors who are feeling lonely or isolated. These organizations may host social groups or support groups, offer case management services or connect seniors with a companion who can offer company on a daily or weekly basis.

Organization Name


How It Helps

AmeriCorps Senior Program

(800) 942-2677

The AmeriCorps Senior Program helps seniors aged 55 and older find volunteer opportunities that are matched to their abilities and their interests, giving them the opportunity to interact with other members of their community.

Commit to Connect

(202) 401-4634

Commit to Connect connects seniors, older adults and persons with disabilities to a variety of services and resources that combat loneliness and isolation.

Diverse Elders Coalition

[email protected]

The Diverse Elders Coalition works with senior Black and Indigenous people of color, as well as seniors who are members of the LGBTQ+ community to provide advocacy and connect them with support services that may help to decrease isolation.

Eldercare Locator

(800) 677-1116

The Eldercare Locator is a public service that’s provided by the U.S. Administration on Aging. This service is available online or over the phone and helps seniors connect with long-term care services, social programs and other support options in their area. 

Friend to Friend America

(206) 870-4266

Friend to Friend America pairs seniors with volunteers who provide companionship and friendship.

Friendship Line

(800) 971-0016

The Friendship Line is a 24-hour, toll-free hotline that’s open to seniors aged 60 and above. It’s operated by volunteers who engage in friendly and enriching conversations with callers. Volunteers are also available for those who are in crisis. In addition to receiving incoming calls, the Friendship Line makes ongoing outreach calls to older adults and seniors who are known to be living in isolation.

Friends of the Elderly

Contact via website

Operated by Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly provides long-term companionship from volunteers for adults aged 60 and older.


(914) 650-2548

SAGEConnect exclusively serves LGBTQ+ seniors by providing online LGBTQ+ companions whom they can connect with via telephone and video chat.

The National Caucus and Center on Black Aging Inc.

(202) 637-8400

The National Caucus and Center on Black Aging Inc. promotes wellness, health and connection among aging seniors throughout the United States. It also provides counseling and advocacy services for black senior citizens.

National Indian Council on Aging Inc.

(505) 292-2001

The National Indian Council on Aging protects the rights and safety of Indigenous aging seniors across the United States. Its programs include subsidized job training and senior employment assistance, technical training and caregiver training.

Online Resources for Isolated Seniors and Older Adults

A variety of online resources exist to help seniors determine whether they’re at risk of social isolation, as well as to find resources locally that can help them connect with others and overcome feelings of severe loneliness.

Name of Resource

How it Helps


The Connect2Affect online tools help seniors assess their risk for social isolation. It also provides listings of support services and programs to end isolation in their geographic region.

Social Isolation Risk Assessment

This assessment guides seniors through a series of questions to help them determine if social isolation is a factor in their lives and connects them with resources to help overcome loneliness.

Social Check-in

Social Check-In uses seniors’ smartphones or smart speakers to guide them through an oral list of questions about social isolation, helping them to determine whether they’re at risk and if they are, to find support locally.

National Institute on Aging – Tips for Staying Connected

This article guides seniors through understanding the differences between feeling lonely and feeling isolated, the risks facing those who live in isolation and ways they can stay connected with friends and family members.

CDC – Loneliness and Social Isolation

The CDC has published detailed, verified information regarding the health risks associated with isolation and loneliness among seniors. This article outlines signs that caregivers and seniors can watch for when loneliness becomes concerning, as well as guidance regarding what can be done to combat the negative effects of isolation.

Senior Planet

Operated by the AARP, Senior Planet provides virtual classes and events for seniors across the country. These classes help seniors connect with peers who have similar interests while learning useful skills. Topics include smartphone and smart TV operation, crafts and computer use.

Mental Health is Health

The website helps people of all ages better understand their mental state through questionnaires and online tests. It provides suggestions to discuss with healthcare providers and local resources for those who may be isolated, lonely, anxious or depressed.

The Lonely Hour

The Lonely Hour is a podcast that explores feelings of loneliness and solitude while providing advice and support for those who are overcome with loneliness or living in isolation.

Administration for Community Living – Measuring Social Isolation

This single-page document for caregivers provides easy-to-digest and important information about social isolation for senior citizens, including how to identify isolation and the measurement tools available to determine if a senior requires additional support.


Silversurfers is an online meeting place for seniors where they can connect via chat and forums. It provides an outlet for older adults to discuss common interests, world news and health topics, as well as to gain peer support when feeling lonely or isolated. This website also publishes a broad range of articles on topics that are important to seniors, including travel, health, finance and insurance.

State-by-State Resources For Seniors Facing Isolation and Loneliness

Resources are available in every state to help seniors who may be struggling with isolation and loneliness. These resources are state-operated and employ committed case managers, counselors and volunteers who are committed to helping seniors enjoy a higher quality of life without isolation.


Resource Name



Alabama Department of Senior Services

(334) 242-5743


Alaska Senior and Disabilities Services

(907) 269-3666


Social Aging – Arizona Department of Economic Security

(877) 600-2722


Arkansas Division of Aging, Adult & Behavioral Health Services

(501) 682-2441


California Department of Aging

(800) 510-2020


Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Older Adult Services

(303) 692-2000


Connecticut State Department of Aging and Disability Services

(800) 994-9422


Delaware Division of Services for Aging and Adults With Physical Disabilities

(302) 255-9390


Florida Department of Elder Affairs

(850) 414-2000


Georgia Department of Human Services – Division of Aging Services

(404) 657-5258


State of Hawaii Department of Health – Executive Office on Aging

(808) 586-0100


Idaho Commission on Aging

(208) 667-3179


Illinois Department on Aging

(800) 252-8966


Indiana Family and Social Services Administration INconnect Alliance

(317) 205-9201


Iowa Department on Aging

(866) 468-7887


Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

(785) 296-4986


Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services – Department for Aging and Independent Living

(866) 766-2372


Louisiana Department of Health – Office of Aging and Adult Services

(225) 219-1917


Maine Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Aging and Disability Services

(207) 396-6500


Maryland Department on Aging

(410) 767-1100


Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services – Executive Office of Elder Affairs

(617) 727-7750


Michigan Behavioral and Physical Health and Aging Services Administration

(231) 929-2531


Minnesota Board on Aging

(651) 431-2500


Mississippi Department of Human Services: Aging and Adult Services

(800) 345-6347


Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services: Senior & Disability Services

(800) 835-5465


Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Senior and Long-Term Care Aging Services

(800) 551-3191


Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services State Unit on Aging

(402) 471-2307


Nevada Department of Health & Human Services – Aging and Disability Services Division

(702) 486-3545

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services Adult & Aging Care

(603) 271-9203

New Jersey

New Jersey Department of Human Services – Division of Aging Services

(877) 222-3737

New Mexico

New Mexico Aging & Long-Term Services Department

(505) 476-4799

New York

New York State Office for the Aging

(844) 697-6321

North Carolina

North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services – Division of Aging and Adult Services

(919) 855-3400

North Dakota

North Dakota Human Services – Aging and Adult Services

(701) 328-8744


Ohio Department of Aging

(866) 243-5678


Oklahoma Department of Human Services – Aging Services Division

(405) 521-2281


Oregon Department of Human Services – Services for Seniors and People With Disabilities

(503) 945-5600


Pennsylvania Department of Aging

(717) 783-1550

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging

(401) 462-3000

South Carolina

South Carolina Department on Aging

(866) 365-8110

South Dakota

South Dakota Department of Human Services – Long-Term Services and Supports

(605) 773-5990


Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability

(423) 424-4256


Texas Health and Human Services – Aging

(817) 792-3482


Utah Department of Human Services – Aging and Adult Services

(801) 538-4171


Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living

(802) 241-2401


Virginia Office for Aging Services of the Division for Community Living

(804) 662-9333


Washington State Department of Social and Health Services – Aging and Long-Term Support Administration

(877) 501-2233

West Virginia

West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services

(304) 558-3317


Wisconsin Department of Health Services – Programs and Services for Older Adults 

(608) 266-1865


Wyoming Department of Health – Aging Division

(307) 777-7995