For Professionals

End Isolation & Loneliness

What if we could build communities where everyone feels a sense of belonging? Where real connections between people create impactful relationships? Where we all live with meaning and purpose?

The Wisconsin Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness (WCESIL) is bringing community organizations and individuals together to make that happen.

Social Isolation & Loneliness: What’s the Difference?

  • Social Isolation: The objective experience of having few or infrequent social connections.
  • Loneliness: The subjective and distressing feeling of social isolation, often defined as the difference between actual and desired level of social connection.
  • Social Connection: The ways that people can be physically, emotionally and culturally connected to others.

Find resources and tools and learn about coalition initiatives to support older adults and people with disabilities in communities throughout Wisconsin.   


Research, Data, & Policy

Two work groups of WCESIL work in this area: Public Policy and Measurement. Learn more about each here:

Image of policy work group update document
Image of work group update document

The Impact of Loneliness & Social Isolation

Loneliness and social isolation have serious physical and mental health implications in older adults and people with disabilities.
 
In older adults:
A study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine showed:

  • More than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. 

  • 30% of U.S. households have a single member; approximately 34.75 million people live in single-person households.

  • Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

  • Social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.

  • Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.

  • Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.

In people with disabilities:

Michigan University health policy brief developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research showed:

  • 40% of adults with a debilitating disability or chronic condition report feeling lonely or socially isolated

  • Specific health risks associated with social isolation and loneliness include: increased mortality, increased blood pressure and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, depression, pain, and fatigue, failing immune system, and decreased restorative sleep

  • Adults with disability have unequal access to technology

Public Policy Issues Impacting Loneliness & Social Isolation

Research on Loneliness & Social Isolation in Older Adults

Raising Awareness

The Public Awareness Work Group works in this area. Learn more about the work group here:

Public Awareness Work Group Update

Raising Awareness to Connect People

The resources here are intended for professionals to utilize as tools and examples for engaging members of your community to encourage meaningful connections and purpose. 

How can you use these tools in your community? We’ve shared some strategies, but feel free to be creative and share what has been successful!  

Awareness Resources

If you have a newsletter, paper, do bag stuffers, or have other print or online communication with isolated members of your community, consider inserting one of the following. Download and enter your own community activities and events to distribute to people in your area.

Media Tools

Stay Connected
This fillable document can help people who are lonely and/or socially isolated create an action plan for creating meaningful connections.

Community Response Examples

Toolkits

Finding & Supporting People

The Access & Detection Work Group works in this area. Learn more about the work group here:

Detection & Access Work Group Update

Detecting Loneliness & Social Isolation and Engaging in Interventions

Identifying people who are lonely and/or socially isolated is a challenge. But it’s a critical step in reaching and supporting them. 

The resources here provide tools for assessing and providing resources to community members to encourage meaningful connections and purpose. How can you use these tools in your community? We’ve shared some strategies, but feel free to be creative and share what has been successful! 

How connected are your community members? Share this self-evaluation from AARP’s Connect2Affect.

Additional Resources:

Resources

WCESIL Resources

We’ll be continually looking for reliable sources of information and tools to support people who are lonely or socially isolated in your community. Watch for regular updates!

How connected do individuals in your community feel?

This self-evaluation tool from AARP’s Connect2Affect can help people identify their level of connection.

National Resources

Wisconsin Resources

Recorded Webinars

Contact Pam VanKampen, GWAAR OAA Consultant with any questions or if you have additional resources. 

About the Coalition

WCESILThe Steering CommitteeJoin Us

Learn More about the Coalition:

The Wisconsin Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness (WCESIL) encourages individuals and organizations from all across the state to join us in finding and supporting people who are lonely and/or socially isolated. As a member, you’ll have the opportunity to join a work group to play a role in the effort or simply stay informed about coalition activities and initiatives. 

To join, please fill out the appropriate form below and let us know your interests and availability. We will follow up with you to facilitate your participation.