Why you Need to Overcome Self-Isolation As an Older Adult (and How To Do It!)

Strategies for Staying Socially Connected to Improve Your Physical and Mental Health

By Paul Groat

If you are reading this, you or someone you care about has likely pulled away from the world. For some reason, they have chosen to isolate themselves from others or even society as a whole. Sadly, this can be more common as a person ages. Its important that you understand the facts about social and self-isolaton.

Various life events can cause you to justify isolating yourself from what you need the most – other people. Humans are social beings and we need each other for our survival and for our emotional, physical, and mental health and well-being.

In this article, we will address the topic of self-isolation. This results from a choice to pull back from others in your life. This results in social isolation and loneliness, especially those 65 and older. This post will address why people self-isolate, especially as we age. 

It will address the positive and negative aspects associated with self-isolation, including the risk factors. It will also discuss why and how self-isolation can keep you stuck. Also, how self-isolation can and negatively affect your life (and those around you). 

Lastly, we will provide tips and strategies to overcome self-isolation. This will help you turn this part of life into a powerful experience. In the process, you will better understand the issues related to isolation and loneliness, whether it is you or someone you know. 

Self-Isolation and Loneliness as an Older Adult

Self-isolation in this context refers to behaviors and actions, where, as an older adult, you withdraw from outside social interactions. You reduce your contact with others. Your strategy can include extended and immediate family, friends, and your community.

This withdrawal can be voluntary or involuntary such as the result of illness or limited resources. It typically involves spending extended periods of time socially isolated or in a limited community, such as your immediate family.

It is vital to understand that self-isolation often has many negative implications for your physical and mental health. What may have seemed as a justified choice to you, can work against you and over time, can actually lower your quality of life.

Understanding Social Isolation and the Risk for Loneliness in Seniors

As you age, we often encounter various overwhelming challenges. These can include heartfelt experiences such as the loss of friends or family members, health challenges, mobility issues, etc.  

Your life-altering changes can also include powerful life events, such as retirement or the emergence or discovery of various health issues. It can also include major emotional blows to your sense of self, such as divorce, or the loss of loved ones or dear friends. It can even include the loss of a pet.

These naturally occurring events contribute to a developing and unfortunate thinking process. This can result in you deciding to self-isolate.

As these changes can occur over a longer time frame, the day-to-day changes can be very gradual. A byproduct is that you can unconsciously come to believe that what you are doing is normal and being by yourself or with limited intereactions is the way to live.

Unfortunately, these can happen more frequently as you age. Negative events can drive feelings of futility or that life has little or no meaning left for you. Recently, these types of events were exacerbated as a result of the recent pandemic where contact with others was limited.

To compensate for these trying experiences, you can erroneously assume that the best way to deal with our issues is to self-isolate.

Why You Might Self-Isolate as You Age Vs. Choosing Social Connections

As we mentioned, challenging life events can trigger you to make a life-altering choice where you separate yourself from others. As an example, as you age, your social circles often change significantly. Your long-term social connections can fade away. An unwanted result is that you may increasingly be cut off from your established social networks and instead of living a vibrant life, you can spend too much time alone.

With all of these life changes, your thinking can cause you to accept or become accustomed to, isolation – (if you let them!) These significant life events can alter how you see yourself and the world you live in. Combined with a reduction in your social interactions, it can result in you believing that self-isolating is normal or preferred.

This can be especially the case if you do not have a plan or goals for this part of your life. 

Hint: Make an Amazing Plan for This Part of Your Life!

Common Reasons Why You Might Be Self-Isolating

Here are several leading factors that can contribute to self-isolation as you age:

Health Issues: 

Chronic pain, mobility limitations, or other health problems can make it difficult for you to participate in social activities. You could also be overwhelmed with health issues of others.

Age Related Changes

As mentioned above most people go through many changes as they age. These can have a dramatic effect on your day to day experiences. While you may have spent your days surrounded by others all of a sudden, you find yourself with lots of free and unplanned time.

Psychological Factors: 

Depression, anxiety, or grief, especially after losing a partner or friend can drive you to self-isolate. You can also be dealing with the psychological issues, either your own or of those around you such as family members.

World Changes: 

This is more prevalent today due to the overwhelming influence of technology. Our day-to-day world has changed in many ways, from our communication to banking, to shopping and attending events such as an online training. We are doing alot more without having to go out.

Logistical Challenges:

Lack of transportation or living in an area with few social opportunities can impede your ability to interact with others.

Lack of a Plan

Many people look forward to retirement and yet lack a vision of a powerful life past retirement. The lack a plan that includes goals and aspirations for this part of your life can cause you to feel lost and without direction.

Perceived Burdensomeness: 

You may be pulled to withdraw as you feel that you have become a burden on others. You could come to believe that your social circles might be better off without you.

Technological Barriers: 

Inadequate knowledge or access to technology can exclude some people from digital forms of communication. This can lead to further isolation from social networks that have moved online.

Out of Sync With Today’s Changes: 

Many older people have the benefit of experiencing the world before the massive influence of technology. As a result, many older people see the world differently. In some ways, older people see technology as what it was meant to be – a tool, vs what it has become – in many ways an addiction and an appendage As such, you may see technologies like cell phones as a way of talking to people, not as a way of gluing yourself to a piece of technology & consuming information mindlessly. 

Understanding the Negative Consequences Of Self-Isolation

It is vital for your overall health and well-being that you understand the negative consequences of this life-limiting choice. As an older adult, not having regular social contact can increase feelings of loneliness and social anxiety.

This sensory-deprived existence can further discourage you from pursuing social opportunities. You can risk your well being by not seeking out new ways to meet and socialize with other people.

Instead of living an empowered life, one filled with new possibilities, you can now find yourself having just you as your only companion. Trust me, the conversations aren’t very good or meaningful !:) ha, and they get worse over time.

The Human Costs of Loneliness and Self-Isolation

In simple terms we humans were not designed for isolation – we need each other for our mental and physical well-being. This cannot be understated.

Technology will never replace a hug or seeing someone in person. It will never replace sharing a joke, slapping someone on the back in goodwill, or going for a walk with a friend. You can never do these amazing things if you withdraw from the world. We need other people to help us combat loneliness and social isolation, especially among older adults who need social relationships as much, if not more than most.

Short video on the impact of social isolation 

The Impact of Lack of Social Support on Your Mental Health

Having a robust social network is critical for your mental well-being. Without social support, you may experience a heightened sense of vulnerability, especially in todays world.

This stressful outlook can result in various mental health challenges.

Increased Risks of Depression, Anxiety, and Cognitive Decline associated with self-isolation

Increased levels of depression and anxiety are common results of prolonged self-isolation. Emotional responses are often characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. Furthermoreself-isolation has been linked to cognitive decline. For example, reduced social interaction can lead to a faster decline in memory and executive function.

Physical Health Implications of loneliness and social Isolation

The absence of social interactions can manifest in numerous detrimental and potentially life-altering physical health outcomes. Negative effects of self-isolation include:

  • Increased risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
  • A weaker immune system leading to higher susceptibility to infections.
  • Slower recovery times from illness or surgery.

Understand that regular social engagement is not just beneficial for you. In many ways, it is essential to help you maintain your physical health as you age. It can help to keep you active and moving.

Note: Keep in mind that your health and well-being issues can also affect those around you.

According to the National Institute on AgingResearch has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depressioncognitive declineAlzheimer’s disease, dementia, and even death.

Your Need For Human Interactions to Combat Loneliness

Maintaining social connections becomes more integral to your mental and physical well-being especially as we age. Meeting with others helps your outlook on life and can give it meaning.

The Role of Companionship In Bolstering Your Resilience and Alleviate Loneliness

As you age, you will likely confront increased levels of natural life stressors. These can include minor or major health problems or the loss of loved ones. Its important to understand that having companionship, people you can call, can bolster your resilience in the face of life’s challenges

It’s been shown that those with a solid support system often demonstrate greater adaptability to life’s problems.

Having contact with others helps you to manage stress through shared experiences and mutual assistance. The presence of companions can also encourage positive and more healthy behaviors. These can enhance your capacity to cope with and recover from adversity.

Our Changing World – A Major Reason Why You Need to Rethink Self-Isolation

If you don’t know, life expectancy numbers have changed dramatically over the last 200 years. Life expectancy was 47 in 1900 and was 79 in 2019. And, there are lots of people who have lived well beyond these numbers.

Dick Van Dyke on the Masked Singer at 97

From where you are today can you imagine if you live another 30 or 40 years? Are you sure you want to sit in your basement looking at the walls? How about reinventing yourself, creating something amazing, living powerfully, and experiencing a vibrant and full life? Isn’t it time to reinvent yourself so that you can live fully!!!

The Benefits and Positive Impact of Staying Connected 

My friend, please understand that there are many, many benefits that you will experience as a result of staying connected with others. Understand that the gains far outweigh the downside and risks and of isolating yourself! Here are some great motivators:

Personal Health Improvements: 

People who maintain relationships with their peers often experience better physical health outcomes. Regular social interaction can lead to a longer and healthier lifespan. It can help reduce your risk of mental health issues and also help you to improve your cognitive functioning. (I know i am repeating this, i just want to make sure you understand how important this is!)

Positive Benefits of Being with Others

Social connections can have measurable effects on both mental and physical health. Engagement with others can lead to:

  • Reduced risk for mental health issues like depression and anxiety
  • Enhanced feelings of belonging and purpose
  • Longevity: Studies link social ties to increased life expectancy.
  • Mental Health: Isolation can contribute to depression and anxiety while staying connected offers a protective and positive effect.
  • Cognitive Health: Engaging with others helps you to keep your brain active! This can help you to slow the progression of memory-related conditions.
  • Physical health benefits include:

Lower blood pressure Associated with less stress and better heart health

Boosted immune function = Better defense against illnesses

Increased longevity = Social ties linked to a longer lifespan

Embracing Opportunities and Strategies to Reconnect 

Instead of hiding, especially if you feel lonely, maybe it’s time to start something new, to reinvent yourself. Maybe this is the time to invent the new lightbulb, discover new lands, or share your wisdom with future generations to help create a better world. Unfortuabally You can’t invent Kentucky fried chicken as Col. Sanders already did that.

By understanding the importance of maintaining and initiating your social connections, you can take steps to combat self-isolation. Stepping past social isolation can provide you with a much-needed sense of purpose in your life and a way of belonging to the human community.

Reconnecting with the world after a period of isolation requires that you take deliberate actions.

It’s essential to understand where you stand socially. Then set tangible interaction goals take the initiative to meet others, and join community groups.

Below are effective measures tailored to address potential loneliness and improve your social connectedness.

Cultivating a Positive Mental Attitude

To get you going, cultivating a positive mental attitude is crucial. Many times as we age we can get cynical and buy into our negative thinking.

Start your transition to a better life by acknowledging your feelings of loneliness. It’s also important that you focus on the benefits of seeking and enjoying companionship.

To help get you motivated, it can help if you keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of the beneficial aspects of life, especially your relationships. Make a list of all the people who have had a positive influence on your life. Now create a new habit of reaching out.

Mindset Shift to Connection and Contribution

Shifting your mindset to prioritize connection and contribution is crucial. It involves recognizing the value of your experiences and the joy of sharing them with others. This shift can be facilitated by:

  • Identifying personal barriers to socializing and addressing them proactively
  • Seeking varied opportunities for interaction, from volunteering to joining clubs or groups
  • Contributing to the community, not only helps others but also fosters a sense of being valued and needed

Assessing Your Current Social Connections

You need to evaluate your current social network by listing friends, family members, and acquaintances. This helps identify the kinds of relationships that exist and the ones that need nurturing or re-establishing.

  • FriendsHow often do they communicate?
  • FamilyAre the relationships supportive?
  • AcquaintancesIs there potential to deepen these connections? Through this

Set Goals for Social Interaction to promote healthy aging (s)

Setting clear social interaction goals provides you with a sense of direction. Targets can be based on frequency (e.g., twice a week) or type of interaction (e.g., one-on-one meetings vs. group activities). The goals should be:

  • Specific: e.g., “Attend a local book club every month.”
  • Measurable: e.g., “Make two new friends within three months.”

Initiating Social Engagements

Reaching out to existing friends and contacts to schedule a get-together is crucial. An easy start is to invite a friend for coffee or propose a family gathering.

Tactics for initiating contact include:

  • Direct Invites: “Would you like to meet for lunch next Thursday?”
  • Reach out to old friends. Make a list of people who have been important in your life. Send a note or email and check-in. While you may find people who have also self-isolated, you will find many people who will welcome your contact
  • Follow-ups: Sending a message post-encounter, expressing enjoyment, and suggesting another meeting.

Joining Groups to Meet New People in-Person

Joining groups that align with your interests. This will provide you with new social opportunities. You can find groups in areas such as:

  • Hobbies: Book clubs, gardening societies
  • Education: Night classes, lecture series
  • Volunteering: Community service organizations
  • Join a Senior center and meet other people your age.

Each engagement should be seen as a step towards building a more vibrant social life as one age.

Engaging in Social Activities and Hobbies

Participation in social activities can significantly reduce any feelings of isolation. You must make the effort to:

  • Reach out to others and arrange get-togethers;
  • Join local clubs or groups that align with your interests, such as book clubs or gardening societies. You could also check out meetup.com for groups that fit your interests.
  • Seek out and take part in classes designed for their age group, like senior fitness classes or art workshops.
  • Alternatively, start a group of your own. This can offer many benefits. For example, will give you something to focus on and also make a difference for yourself and other people. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Col. Sanders!

Utilize Technology to Stay Connected

As you likely know, leveraging technology can help you in touch with loved ones. Make sure to include your friends in this plan! 

Engage in social media to maintain existing relationships and forge new ones within online communities.

If you can’t get together in person Use video calling apps like Skype, Zoom, or WhatsApp so that you can have face-to-face video chat interactions with out-of-town family and friends. While it will never make up for an in-person meeting, it’s way better than text messages

Note: Make sure you take charge of your technology and that it doesn’t take charge of you! I.e. Set limits on your use of technology. a great habit is to go see someone instead of texting them, etc.

Volunteering and Community Contribution

Volunteering can provide you with a powerful sense of purpose and community involvement. Think of ways you can give back things you learned over your life. What skills have you learned what knowledge do you have that other people need etc? Then take action steps:

  • Volunteer Opportunities: Ranging from mentoring to environmental conservation, or acting as a caregiver for others, there’s a wide array of activities where seniors can make impactful contributions.
  • Contribute to community events that align with their skills, thereby expanding their social network.
  • Policy Influence: Seniors often have a vested interest in community policies, and their advocacy can shape better social support and resources for all ages.

Seek out Professional Help and Support Groups if you need extra help.

Professional help can help you adopt coping strategies for dealing with and overcoming isolation. You can:

  • Consult a therapist who specializes in mental health issues associated with aging.
  • Join support groups where they can meet others experiencing similar emotions and challenges.

Find Opportunities to Make a Difference

Find ways to make a differnce. Remember that you are not alone and that others are also struggling. Engaging in social activities has tangible benefits for older individuals, fostering personal growth and community well-being.

Add Value in Communities through Your Diverse Perspectives 

  • Enhanced Problem-Solving: Different generations bring varied experiences and ideas, enriching discussions and leading to more innovative solutions.
  • Generational Insight: As an older adult, you can contribute historical perspectives and life experiences that can broaden understanding.
  • CultuHope ral Wisdom: The elderly hold valuable knowledge about cultural traditions and values, vital for preserving community heritage.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section explores pivotal questions regarding the identification, strategies, and impacts of social isolation as it pertains to the aging population.

What are the Common Signs indicating an older person is experiencing Social Isolation or evidence of loneliness?

An elderly person experiencing social isolation may show signs of withdrawal from social interactions, express feelings of loneliness. They can show a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed.

What strategies can be employed to reduce social isolation in older adults?

To reduce social isolation, join community groups, engage in regular communication with family and friends, and participate in social activities that align with their interests.

How does social isolation impact the health and well-being of elderly individuals?

Social isolation in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of mental health issues like depression, as well as physical conditions such as heart disease and a weakened immune system.

What are the primary causes that lead to social isolation in elderly populations?

Primary causes of social isolation in the elderly include the loss of a spouse or close friends, mobility issues that limit social interaction, negative world changes, and living alone without a strong support network.

In what ways can prolonged isolation affect an individual’s mental and physical health?

Prolonged isolation can lead to exacerbated feelings of loneliness, increased stress levels, cognitive decline, and higher susceptibility to chronic illnesses.

How can someone recognize and address feelings of loneliness and isolation?

You can recognize feelings of loneliness and isolation by being aware of their need for more social interaction and taking proactive steps to connect with others, such as reaching out to community resources or seeking therapy.


Self-isolation can have significant negative consequences on you. If you are self-isolating, it is something you need to address.

Self-isolation can be the result of accumulative life events that have put a lot of stress on you over time. As a result, you have pulled back from life and isolated yourself. In many ways, you’re hurting yourself the most by taking this stance.

The problem is that we humans need each other. Contact with others is important to our health and well-being.

Summary of Self-Isolation Dangers and Benefits

Self-isolation can lead to detrimental effects on your mental and physical health. Mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety may increase, while physical health can deteriorate due to inactivity.

Conversely, temporary self-isolation can offer a period of reflection and rest; however, this is beneficial only when balanced with social interaction.

There are Proactive Steps to Overcome Self Isolation and create supportive Social Connections

Take deliberate actions to maintain and build social connections. These steps include:

  • Joining interest-based groups to foster a sense of belonging.
  • Volunteering can offer purpose and community engagement.
  • Using technology to stay in touch when face-to-face interaction is not possible.
  • Establishing a regular schedule for social activities can ensure consistent interaction and help mitigate the risks associated with isolation. 

In simple terms, Self-isolating hurts you the most. Humans need each other. Having social contact with another person will support better emotional and physical outcomes for you. Surround yourself with supportive people! This can benefit you in many positive ways. 

It is time to reinvent yourself and do something amazing! Its time to Set powerful goals and then take action! 

Remember to get help from people around you!

It is up to you to create what you want!

How about this –Maybe this will be You?

As promised, fere is a longer version of the Masked Singer reveal