Document Type

Policy Brief

Publication Date



social isolation, loneliness, aging, older adults, Disability and Aging, USM Aging Initiative, Policy, Social/Cultural


Social isolation and loneliness are related and the terms are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct concepts with different definitions, health impacts, and interventions. Our population is aging and older people are at increased risk for both social isolation and loneliness and the associated negative health consequences. Understanding the important differences between social isolation and loneliness will help us recognize them earlier in vulnerable populations, engage in more meaningful conversations with older adults about their own risks, and will inform the development and delivery of more individualized, meaningful, and cost-effective interventions.