• Alleviating Loneliness

    Background

    Professional literature defines loneliness as a complex and unpleasant emotional response to isolation or lack of companionship. Loneliness can result from a living situation, life event or it may simply be a feeling of isolation, which can surface even among people who surround themselves with family and acquaintances. The effects of loneliness can be devastating, especially among older adults who may also be experiencing retirement, a decrease in self-esteem, and/or a decline in physical and cognitive functioning.

    Thirty-three percent of older adults in Israel frequently or sometimes felt lonely (40% women; 25% men), with the sense of loneliness increasing with age.

    Need

    There is a need for programming, separate from existing services such as day centers, which specifically addresses loneliness. The programs should work to decrease loneliness through building relationships. Additionally, there must be an increase in the awareness around the issue of loneliness.

    Program

    This program seeks to find best practices for combating loneliness in older adults. 14 pilot programs were selected from across the country – each offering an alternative approach to alleviating loneliness among older adults. For example, the pilot program in Tel Aviv-Yafo offers weekend activities due to the lack of public services offered over this period of the week. The pilot program includes activities such as lectures, Friday night activities, prayer services and communal meals.

    During the program's first year, 1,000 participants were involved. The current evaluation data of the program suggests participants experienced improvements in their attitude to life, positive changes in their familial relationships, increased community involvement and were highly satisfied with the programs.

    This pilot initiative will provide best practices in order to build person-centered plans for alleviating loneliness in future programs. These individually tailored plans will include group therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eco-therapy), individual and group coaching, group activities by interest, volunteer visits, virtual program involvement, technology skill building, and more.

    Outcomes

    • Increase social interaction and formation of social relationships
    • Included and integrated into the community
    • Improve communication
    • Improve wellbeing and healthy life choices
    • Reduce loneliness
    • Increase awareness of loneliness amongst professionals
    • Sense of belonging to the community
    • Feels secure due to presence of social support network
    • Effective models for reducing loneliness

    Contract dates

    2016 - 2018

    Partners

    National Insurance Institute, Ministry of Welfare