Upstream thinking and health promotion planning for older adults at risk of social isolation

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Abstract

Aims and objectives.

To raise awareness of social isolation, and provide an approach to first conceptualise and then prevent social isolation among older community-dwelling persons.

Background.

Older adults comprise a vulnerable population for social isolation and its associated health risks.

Design.

Literature review.

Methods.

Canada’s Population Health Promotion Model was chosen as a comprehensive tool to understand and prevent social isolation. Research studies were sought to identify key health determinants and evidence-based options for preventing social isolation.

Results.

Around 1 out of 6 older persons are socially isolated and three health determinants are of prime importance: (i) income and social status; (ii) personal health practices and coping skills and (iii) social support networks. Evidence-based interventions targeted to these health determinants are suggested.

Conclusion.

Nurses are a key group to advocate for actions needed to prevent social isolation.

Implications for practice.

Nurses can play a vital role in minimising social isolation through a variety of educational, prevention and political lobbying activities.

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