Social Isolation and Depression in Elderly Populations: A Systematic Review
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As the population continues to age, more older adults are living alone or in assisted living facilities. Social isolation amongst the older population is emerging as one of the major issues facing the industrialized world. This thesis reviews the published literature since the beginning of the century relating social isolation to depression in older adult populations. In this thesis, twenty-six peer-reviewed research articles were reviewed and the results reveal that social isolation has significant negative impacts on the mental well-being of this population, specifically through increased rates of depression. Also, the review revealed that two specific components of social isolation, perceived isolation and social disconnectedness, negatively impact mental health in unique ways. It is concluded that while social interventions must take place in order to combat the issue, familial structure and support may be the most effective counter-measures.