Social Isolation is a condition which affects over half of all people over the age of 75 years old. An afflicted person exists in a state of complete or near-complete lack of contact with people and society. The effects of Social Isolation can be quite critical in that the affected person exists in a state of diminishing mental and emotional wellbeing. They are also more susceptible to both mental and physical illness. In most cases the individual is suffering from depression and experiencing a sense of loss and exclusion.
Social Isolation increases mortality by some 26% and is said to be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The causes of the condition are many, retirement, death of a spouse, moving to a new location or country, perceived cultural difference, lack of disposable funds or poverty, inadequate housing or living in a deprivated environment. Many people will recognise many of these symptoms if not in their own lives, in others. Though it is recognised that the most susceptible group is the elderly, the condition is known to affect people of any age group, geographic region or social status. It is therefore quite a complex condition. Currently available treatments involve providing opportunities for the affected individual to attain increased Social Integration through group activities and to increase both physical and mental activity.
However attention also needs to be given to some of the root causes of the condition such as poverty, inadequate housing, cultural segregation.
The Online Care Support service is being reviewed to increase its capacity to address many of these issues and others in a cost-efficient and effective manner, through increased individual capability, use of available technology, along with the provision of relevant support services delivered in an online form.
It is the intention to establish this service as a viable, affordable and easily accessible early stage intervention in the alleviation and prevention of Social Isolation while working to provide programs which directly address some of the root causes of the condition.