Reducing Loneliness and the Importance of Meaningful Social Connection for Older Adults


The Importance of Social Connection for Older Adults

3 Mature Women

Strong, healthy relationships and meaningful social connections are important for overall physical and mental well-being.

Interestingly, social isolation and loneliness are not same. Social isolation is an objective measure of having few social contacts and relationships. An individual may be socially isolated but prefer solitude to being around others. Loneliness, however, is a subjective feeling that one’s social relationships are less than desired. Someone may be very socially connected and still experience loneliness.

Although loneliness and social isolation have serious negative effects on both physical and mental health, social connectedness is a positive antidote. Individuals that have strong, healthy relationships have lower rates of depression and anxiety, higher self-esteem, stronger immune systems, lower risk of cognitive decline, and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Individuals with meaningful social connections are also more likely to be satisfied with their lives and are more independent, needing fewer domestic supports. [i]

Strategies for Reducing Loneliness and Increasing Social Connectedness

  • Improving social skills and communication: Individuals may experience loneliness because they struggle with social interactions. Communication struggles may also be due to hearing loss, vision impairments, or cognitive impairments. Interventions may include psychotherapy, hearing-aides, screen readers, and other adaptive devices.
  • Increasing access to social interactions: Individuals may experience loneliness because they are social isolated. These interventions could include friendly visitors, virtual groups, transportation assistance, and telephone outreach.
  • Increasing meaningful social connection: Individuals may experience loneliness because they lack significant relationships or social interactions that feel meaningful. These interventions could include connections to volunteering, faith communities, support groups, or even online dating.

Start building connection in your community at one of these fun, local events!

Additional Resources:



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Innovative Geriatric
Mental Health Services


The RAFT program provides intensive mental health services to individuals in Long Term Care Facilities, as well as education, training and consultations for Long Term Care Communities, Community Providers and others in the community to develop the skills and knowledge base to successfully understand and work with individuals with Mental Health and Dementia Diagnoses.


7611 Little River Turnpike
Suite 200
Annandale, VA 22003

Phone: 703-531-2144
TTY: 703-228-1788



It Takes A Village: Supportive Conversations on Mental Wellness and Dementia – Hosted by Temple Rodef Shalom

RAFT is excited to be partnering with Temple Rodef Shalom in Fairfax for a 4-part interactive, educational series on aging, mental health, and dementia. This training is designed for people of all ages to better understand what strategies and resources are available to support older adults in our community. 

  • February 1, 7pm (Virtual): Effective Communication
  • February 8, 7pm (Virtual): Stories from the Field
  • February 15, 7pm (Virtual): Introduction to the RAFT Dementia Support Program
  • February 22, 4:30pm (In-Person): Community Forum

Register online at