Age UK. Age UK's Loneliness Heat Map questions and answers. 2017. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Age UK. Policy Position paper: loneliness and isolation. 2019. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

American Psychological Association. So Lonely I Could Die. 2017. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Aylaz R, Aktürk Ü, Erci B, Öztürk H, Aslan H. Relationship between depression and loneliness in elderly and examination of influential factors. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2012; 55:(3)548-554

Boulos C, Salameh P, Barberger-Gateau P. Social isolation and risk for malnutrition among older people. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2017; 17:(2)286-294

Brocklehurst JC. Health visiting and the elderly--a geriatrician's view. Health Visit. 1982; 55:(7)356-357

Campaign to End Loneliness. Measuring your impact on loneliness in later life. 2015. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Cattan M, Kime N, Bagnall AM. The use of telephone befriending in low level support for socially isolated older people--an evaluation. Health Soc Care Community. 2011; 19:(2)198-206

Chipps J, Jarvis MA, Ramlall S. The effectiveness of e-Interventions on reducing social isolation in older persons: A systematic review of systematic reviews. J Telemed Telecare. 2017; 23:(10)817-827

Dahlberg L, McKee KJ. Correlates of social and emotional loneliness in older people: evidence from an English community study. Aging Ment Health. 2014; 18:(4)504-514

Day P, Gould J, Hazelby G. A public health approach to social isolation in the elderly. J Community Nurs. 2020; 34:(3)

Day P, Peckover S, Hazelby G, Chauhdry H, Kirkham L, McAleavy J. Putting new therapeutic communication skills into public health nursing practice: the student experience. British Journal of School Nursing. 2018; 13:(8)386-392

Doll G, Bolender B. Research: age to age: resident outcomes from a kindergarten classroom in the nursing home. J Intergenerational Relationships. 2010; 8:(4)327-337

Donovan NJ, Wu Q, Rentz DM, Sperling RA, Marshall GA, Glymour MM. Loneliness, depression and cognitive function in older U.S. adults. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2017; 32:(5)564-573

Eskelinen K, Hartikainen S, Nykänen I. Is loneliness associated with malnutrition in older people?. Int J Gerontol. 2016; 10:(1)43-45

Gardiner C, Geldenhuys G, Gott M. Interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older people: an integrative review. Health Soc Care Community. 2018; 26:(2)147-157

Hanratty B, Stow D, Collingridge Moore D, Valtorta NK, Matthews F. Loneliness as a risk factor for care home admission in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Age Ageing. 2018; 47:(6)896-900

Hawker M, Romero-Ortuno R. Social determinants of discharge outcomes in older people admitted to a geriatric medicine ward. J Frailty Aging. 2016; 5:(2)118-120

Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Baker M, Harris T, Stephenson D. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2015; 10:(2)227-237

Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med. 2010; 7:(7)

Hughes ME, Waite LJ, Hawkley LC, Cacioppo JT. A short scale for measuring loneliness in large surveys: results from two population-based studies. Res Aging. 2004; 26:(6)655-672

Landeiro F, Leal J, Gray AM. The impact of social isolation on delayed hospital discharges of older hip fracture patients and associated costs. Osteoporos Int. 2016; 27:(2)737-745

Making the economic case for investing in actions to prevent and/or tackle loneliness: a systematic review - A briefing paper. 2017. http// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Minayo MCDS, Cavalcante FG. Suicide in elderly people: a literature review. Rev Saude Publica. 2010; 44:(4)750-757

Mulvihill J. Personalised befriending support for older people. Qual Ageing Older Adults. 2011; 12:(3)180-183

Newall N, McArthur J, Menec VH. A longitudinal examination of social participation, loneliness, and use of physician and hospital services. J Aging Health. 2015; 27:(3)500-518

NHS England. Loneliness in older people. 2022. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

NHS England. Improving care for older people. 2023. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Nursing and Midwifery Council. (2022) Standards of proficiency for specialist community public health nurses (SCPHN). 2023. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Office for National Statistics. Living longer - office for national statistics. 2018a. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Office for National Statistics. Measuring loneliness: guidance for use of the national indicators on survey. 2018b. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Office for National Statistics. Profile of the older population living in England and Wales in 2021 and changes since 2011. 2023. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Parahoo K. Nursing research: principles, process and issues.London: Macmillan International Higher Education; 2014

Pimouguet C, Rizzuto D, Lagergren M, Fratiglioni L, Xu W. Living alone and unplanned hospitalizations among older adults: a population-based longitudinal study. Eur J Public Health. 2017; 27:(2)251-256

Queen's Nursing Institute and The Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland. The QNI/QNIS Voluntary Standards for District Nurse Education and Practice. 2015. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Reis da Silva TH. Falls assessment and prevention in the nursing home and community. Br J Community Nurs. 2023a; 28:(2)68-72

Reis da Silva TH. Ageing in place: ageing at home and in the community. Br J Community Nurs. 2023b; 28:(5)213-214

Rokach A. Loneliness updated: recent research on loneliness and how it affects our lives.Cambridge: Routledge; 2013

Russell DW. UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3): reliability, validity, and factor structure. J Pers Assess. 1996; 66:(1)20-40

Ryder E. From togetherness to loneliness: supporting people with dementia. Br J Community Nurs. 2016; 21:(9)464-468

Sabharwal S, Wilson H, Reilly P, Gupte CM. Heterogeneity of the definition of elderly age in current orthopaedic research. Springerplus. 2015; 4:(1)

Patients as partners. 2016. http// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Singh I, Subhan Z, Krishnan M, Edwards C, Okeke J. Loneliness among older people in hospitals: a comparative study between single rooms and multi-bedded wards to evaluate current health service within the same organisation. Gerontol Geriatr Res. 2016; 2:(3)

Skingley A. Older people, isolation and loneliness: implications for community nursing. Br J Community Nurs. 2013; 18:(2)84-90

Sutin AR, Stephan Y, Luchetti M, Terracciano A. Loneliness and Risk of Dementia. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. 2018;

Teater B. Intergenerational programs to promote active aging: the experiences and perspectives of older adults. Act Adaptation Aging. 2016; 40:(1)1-19

UK Government. A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness - laying the foundations for change. 2018. https// (accessed 3 January 2024)

Valtorta NK, Kanaan M, Gilbody S, Ronzi S, Hanratty B. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies. Heart. 2016; 102:(13)1009-1016

Xia N, Li H. Loneliness, social isolation, and cardiovascular health. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2018; 28:(9)837-851

Zhao X, Zhang D, Wu M Loneliness and depression symptoms among the elderly in nursing homes: A moderated mediation model of resilience and social support. Psychiatry Res. 2018; 268:143-151

Loneliness in older adults

02 February 2024
Volume 29 · Issue 2


This article aims to provide an overview on loneliness in older people, with an emphasis on how insights from this body of literature can significantly contribute to the enhancement of care provided by community nurses. This review aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the factors contributing to loneliness, its impact on the physical and mental health of older individuals, and the role community nurses can play in mitigating and addressing loneliness.

With the world population rapidly ageing (Reis da Silva, 2023a), it is important to encourage older individuals to age in their own homes. A strong community nursing service can impact all dimensions of an ageing population, such as the physical, psychological, emotional, social and community (Reis da Silva, 2023b). As indicated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) (2020), the average percentage of the population aged 65 years and over is considerably lower for cities than other types of local authority, making community nursing key to supporting older adults (Reis da Silva, 2023b).

Chronic loneliness is a growing problem faced by the ageing population. Approximately 1.4 million older adults in the UK are lonely, with a further 1.9 million stating they often feel ignored and invisible in their day-to-day life (Age UK, 2018). Adults aged 65 years and over are a population group particularly vulnerable to both loneliness and social isolation. According to the NHS, over one million older adults indicate that they do not speak to a family member, friend or neighbour for over a month (NHS England, 2022).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Community Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for district and community nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month