Keep Your Brain Healthy

Know the Effects of Social Isolation

Research shows that social isolation is a key risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.1 Avoiding other people and social situations can also be a sign of Alzheimer’s.2 You can lower this risk and support brain health by keeping in touch with others, especially as you get older.

You Can Take Action

Social isolation can impact your brain. Knowing the signs of social isolation will help you or your loved one take the steps to stay socially active for a healthy brain:

Understand the link between social isolation and Alzheimer’s disease.

Social isolation has been shown to have a negative effect on brain health and increase risk for Alzheimer’s. Social isolation is also associated with Alzheimer’s disease getting worse, faster.3 It is important to engage with other people regularly to stimulate your brain and help keep it healthy.

Know the risk factors of social isolation.

Major life events and health issues can increase risk for social isolation, especially for older adults. If someone's husband or wife dies, they may have less social interactions after the death. Or, someone might lose a friend or neighbor who they talked to regularly. Big life changes like moving to a new community or retiring can also be difficult adjustments that lead to social isolation. Health problems like hearing loss can make it harder to talk and listen to others, making a person avoid social situations all together.

Ask these questions to identify social isolation:

In a typical week, how many times do you talk on the telephone with family, friends, or neighbors? How often do you get together with friends or relatives? How often do you attend church or religious services? How often do you attend meetings of the clubs or organizations you belong to?4

Be aware of the shame of social isolation.

Someone who is isolated may feel ashamed about their situation. Some people may not want to admit that they have been socially isolated or that they need help. If you feel isolated, know that many other people face these same challenges, and think about who you could reach out to. If your loved one is isolated, acknowledge their emotions, and let them know that you want to help.

Take steps to stay in touch with others.

It may seem hard at first, but you can be socially active, even without leaving your home. You can use phone or video calls to reach out to your friends and family members. There are resources available, too. The “Far From Alone” website has a toolkit for seniors, a telephone hotline, and other resources.5 You can find a buddy through Papa Pal, a companionship program that provides social support and daily assistance. You can help yourself or a loved one feel socially connected by signing up for Papa Pal.6

Sign up for Papa Pal through your health plan or employer. Learn more about Papa Pal here: https://www.papa.com

Understand the link between social isolation and Alzheimer’s disease.

Social isolation has been shown to have a negative effect on brain health and increase risk for Alzheimer’s. Social isolation is also associated with Alzheimer’s disease getting worse, faster.3 It is important to engage with other people regularly to stimulate your brain and help keep it healthy.

Know the risk factors of social isolation.

Major life events and health issues can increase risk for social isolation, especially for older adults. If someone's husband or wife dies, they may have less social interactions after the death. Or, someone might lose a friend or neighbor who they talked to regularly. Big life changes like moving to a new community or retiring can also be difficult adjustments that lead to social isolation. Health problems like hearing loss can make it harder to talk and listen to others, making a person avoid social situations all together.

Ask these questions to identify social isolation:

In a typical week, how many times do you talk on the telephone with family, friends, or neighbors? How often do you get together with friends or relatives? How often do you attend church or religious services? How often do you attend meetings of the clubs or organizations you belong to?4

Be aware of the shame of social isolation.

Someone who is isolated may feel ashamed about their situation. Some people may not want to admit that they have been socially isolated or that they need help. If you feel isolated, know that many other people face these same challenges, and think about who you could reach out to. If your loved one is isolated, acknowledge their emotions, and let them know that you want to help.

Take steps to stay in touch with others.

It may seem hard at first, but you can be socially active, even without leaving your home. You can use phone or video calls to reach out to your friends and family members. There are resources available, too. The “Far From Alone” website has a toolkit for seniors, a telephone hotline, and other resources.5 You can find a buddy through Papa Pal, a companionship program that provides social support and daily assistance. You can help yourself or a loved one feel socially connected by signing up for Papa Pal.6

Sign up for Papa Pal through your health plan or employer. Learn more about Papa Pal here: https://www.papa.com