Co-Directed by Andrew MacPherson and Edward Garcia, The Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness engages in a variety of areas in order to advance its mission; these areas include, but are not limited to, disseminating research findings, developing and advocating for federal and state legislative and regulatory policy interventions, and leading public awareness events in Washington, DC as well as across the nation. The full Coalition and its committees meet in-person and via phone on a regular basis to advance these activities.
The mission of the Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness is to engage diverse stakeholders, increase public awareness, promote innovative research, and advocate for policy change that combats the adverse consequences of social isolation and loneliness and advances approaches that improve social connectedness for all Americans.
Social isolation occurs when an individual does not have adequate opportunities to interact with others, whereas loneliness is a subjective experience stemming from the perception of not having enough social relationships or contact with other people. Both are detrimental to one’s health and wellbeing. New research shows that Medicare spends $6.7 billion annually as a result of individuals being socially isolated. An online survey of more than 20,000 U.S. young adults found that nearly half (46%) said they sometimes or always feel alone.
Recent studies show that millions of Americans are socially isolated, lonely, or both, which negatively impacts quality of life and health outcomes. social isolation led to a 29% increased risk of mortality and loneliness a 26% increase, comparable to that of obesity and cigarette smoking. Other studies have found that social isolation and loneliness are strongly related to poor health, particularly with respect to arthritis, mobility impairment, and depression. Furthermore, social isolation has also been associated with a number of significant co-occurring conditions such as chronic lung disease, arthritis, impaired mobility, depressive symptoms, self-neglect, elder abuse and exploitation. Both young and older individuals experience social isolation and loneliness. Approximately 42 million adults over age 45 in the United States are estimated to be suffering from chronic loneliness, according to AARP’s Loneliness Study, and Among younger Americans the problem is significant as well.
Convening allied stakeholders from a diverse set of perspectives and expertise to advance and advocate for legislative and regulatory policy solutions to this problem will ensure greater social connection for at risk populations. This is crucial because in addition to yielding positive health outcomes, studies show the importance of social connectedness among older adults in building age-friendly communities.