Social Isolation and Scotland’s Older People

Rory Buckle and Eilidh Crawford

Abstract
Social isolation and loneliness are pressing issues for Scotland’s older population; this briefing overviews their prevalence and causes, consequences for public health and potential methods for intervention, with a particular exploration of ethnic minorities’ experience.
Keywords
Ageing, Communities, Ethnic minorities, Loneliness, Older Adults, Public Health, Social Isolation
Key Points
  • The population of older people in Scotland is growing at a rapid pace. It must be a priority for public health and social policy to prevent and combat social isolation and loneliness amongst this group.
  • The prevalence of social isolation needs further investigation, but we do know it is fairly common and seemingly more prevalent amongst ethnic minorities.
  • Risk factors associated with social isolation include life events such as bereavement, illness or disability, living conditions, social networks and support available from family or government.
  • The physical and mental health effects of these issues can be widespread, and further can impact individuals’ ability to reduce their isolation.
  • 1-to-1, group and community interventions have been shown to reduce social isolation, improve older people’s health and tie communities together. Empowering, inclusive and sustainable services should be developed by the third and public sectors.