Occurs when the older person is alone and desires contact with others. They are usually unable to make that contact. This is not the same as a voluntary choice to be alone.
Features of those who are socially isolated are alone most of the time; often have mood or behaviour changes; sleep disorders; poor nutrition and personal hygiene; have a poor self-concept; complain of being abandoned.
Causes of social isolation include – death of spouse; moving home; disability; incontinence; economic situation; lack of access to transport; psychiatric problems; inappropriate behaviours.
Risk of developing foot ulcers in those with diabetes who live alone or are ‘socially unconnected’ is about twice those who are not living alone.
Interventions – eliminate contributing factors; provision of information to enable increased social interaction; referral to appropriate agencies; use neighbours and family; assistance with transportation; identify needs for assistance with activities of daily living ( occupational therapy); use of pets