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Pensive middle aged woman resting on couch and looking out window in front of a computer.

Am I At Risk?

As we age, our social connections may decrease. Depending on a number of risk factors, our sense of isolation or loneliness can increase. Not only can social isolation lead to feeling lonely, but it can have a negative impact on our overall health and well-being.

Knowing if you are experiencing risk factors may help you identify the need to increase your social connections. Review our Social Isolation and Loneliness Scale and Checklist below.

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Social Isolation and Loneliness Scale

Looking at the scale below, which face or number matches how you are feeling right now?


I feel lonely/isolated all the time



I feel lonely/isolated some of the time



I never feel lonely/isolated

Social Isolation and Loneliness Checklist

Below are some risk factors that can impact older adults. Which situations apply to your life?

Risk Factors and Protective Factors

How do older adults become socially isolated?


Risk factors are characteristics that can cause or lead to undesirable outcomes. Generally, the more risk factors an individual faces, the more likely they are to experience undesirable outcomes.

Protective factors are characteristics that can help reduce negative outcomes and support positive outcomes. Generally, the more protective factors an individual has, the less likely they are to experience undesirable outcomes.

Ageing, in itself, does not cause isolation and loneliness.

We know that there are certain risk factors faced by older adults that increases the likelihood of social isolation and loneliness. These risk factors include physical, social, economical, environmental, and health factors, and can limit an older adult’s ability to be socially connected with friends, family, and community.

Isolation and loneliness are not caused by just one or two risk factors.

Although risk factors are unique for each person, individuals facing multiple risk factors are more likely to experience social isolation and loneliness. An older adult facing a few risk factors has a higher chance of experiencing more risk factors. It is important to introduce protective factors as early as possible to help limit the impacts of some risk factors.

Protective factors are characteristics that can reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes or can limit the impact of a risk factor. Examples of protective factors include development of new skills, supports, and access to information and resources.

Risk factors and protective factors can be changeable and unchangeable.

Examples of unchangeable factors can include biological factors like some physical and mental health conditions, race and cultural background, and age.

Changeable factors are situations or stressors that are not permanent. Examples can include self-esteem, retirement, moving to a new home, immigration, losing a loved one, illness, and experiencing abuse.

With a focus on changeable factors, Connection in Action supports older adults by offering protective factors to help increase social connections.

List of Risk Factors and Protective Factors

Below is a list of commonly known risk factors for social isolation and loneliness in older adults. A list of protective factors with some examples can help us understand how to prevent social isolation and loneliness.

Click here for our Resource List
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Category Risk Factors Protective Factors
  • 80 years of age or older
  • Living alone
  • Being a woman, as women are more likely to live longer and live alone
  • Being First Nations, Métis, or Inuit
  • Being 2SLGBTQ+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Non-binary and/or other sexual orientations and gender identities)
  • Have financial limitations or barriers
  • Sufficient income
  • Adequate housing
  • Having higher levels of education
  • Joining groups with similar identities and experiences
  • Reduced social networks including family and friends (I do not have family or friends living close by)
  • Being a caregiver
  • Experience discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity
  • Cultural and/or religious barriers and limitations (People don’t understand my culture/religion)
  • English is not my first language
  • Experiencing elder abuse
  • Having personal relationships and social support networks
  • Feeling connected to and valued by others
  • Maintaining meaningful roles in society (for example: volunteering or being a part of a group or club.)
  • Knowing about elder abuse prevention
  • Participating in cultural groups and events
  • Participating in faith-based groups
Physical Health
  • Vision decline or loss
  • Hearing decline or loss
  • Chronic conditions
  • Compromised health status
  • Challenges with mobility
  • New physical challenges
  • Incontinence
  • Challenges leaving the home
  • Good health
  • Attending regular medical appointments
  • Accessing in-home support services
  • Using a medical alert device
  • Using an assistive device (for example: hearing aids, cane, walker, wheelchair, etc.)
  • Attending exercise classes
Psychological Health
  • Experiencing challenges with mental health
  • New or existing anxiety
  • New or existing depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sensory impairment
  • Cognitive challenges
  • Dementia
  • Intellectual challenges
  • Substance use
  • Set up regular calls or visits with a friend
  • Accessing mental health services (for example: one-on- one counselling, group therapy, etc.)
  • Knowing the phone numbers for crisis and distress hotlines
  • Participating in programs like friendly visiting and telephone check-ins
Life Transitions
  • Retirement
  • Death of a spouse or loved one
  • Becoming a caregiver or no longer caring for someone
  • Moving to a new home or change in living situation
  • Loss of driver’s license
  • New to the country as an immigrant or refugee
  • Other
  • Having personal relationships and social support networks
  • Participating in social programs like friendly visiting and telephone check-ins
  • Accessing settlement services
  • Learning about community groups and services in your area
  • End of life planning
  • Living in a rural or remote area
  • Not feeling safe in your home or neighbourhood
  • Lack of affordable and/or accessible housing
  • Limited or no access to transportation
  • Having limited awareness of community supports
  • Limited or no access to internet and technology
  • Knowledge of resources and services
  • Participating in programs like friendly visiting and telephone check-ins
  • Access to and knowledge of using technology to stay connected
  • Feeling safe in your neighbourhood
  • Communicating your needs to family, friends, and other social support networks
  • Access to health services
  • Sufficient income
  • Adequate housing
  • Access to transportation

I Am At Risk

If you think you are at risk of social isolation and loneliness, there are a number of supports you can access. Our Connection Specialist can assist you by sharing information and resources and by connecting you with services and programs that can help increase your social connections and sense of community-belonging.

Contact us if you would like to increase your social connections.

Call us at (905) 844-2299
Email us at Hello@ConnectionInAction.ca
Learn more about social isolation and loneliness
Click here for ideas on how to increase your social connections
Click here for our Resource List
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