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In the News
March 17, 2020

In Time of Social Distancing, Report’s Call for Health Care System to Address Isolation and Loneliness Among Seniors Resonates

Author Affiliations
  • 1Consulting Editor, JAMA Health Forum and JAMA
JAMA Health Forum. 2020;1(3):e200342. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2020.0342

As many people across the globe are learning, rapid implementation of social distancing is essential to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus and protect those most vulnerable, particularly older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions. But without question, the ripple effects of this crucial strategy include an exacerbation of social isolation and loneliness.

Just as COVID-19 threatens to cause an economic recession, it will also cause a “social recession” that will most affect older adults and people with disabilities or preexisting health conditions, explained writer Ezra Klein in an article published March 12.

Long before the emergence of COVID-19, however, social isolation and loneliness were preexisting conditions in the US, as detailed in a report issued last month by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It describes how the US health care system falls short in preventing social isolation and loneliness among older adults—as well as in identifying and intervening to address the problem in those already affected.

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