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In older people, some types of therapy improved loneliness and social support in long-term care or community settings

Review question

In older people, do any types of therapy reduce loneliness and social isolation?


Loneliness and social isolation are common in older adults. Both loneliness and social isolation can increase a person’s risk for serious health conditions, hospitalization, and death.

Reducing loneliness and social isolation and increasing a person’s social support (the support a person receives and their sense of having accessible and quality social ties with social needs being met) may improve their health. It is unclear what types of therapy can meet these needs.

How the review was done

The researchers did a systematic review of studies available up to March 2020. They found 70 randomized controlled trials that included a total of 8259 people.

Key features of the studies were:

  • number of people in the studies ranged from 8 to 741;
  • people were 55 to 100 years of age, and most were women;
  • people lived in long-term care or in the community;
  • therapy was provided for 2 weeks to 2 years;
  • types of therapy included animal therapy (interacting with a living dog, bird, or robot dog) , cognitive–behavioural therapy (learning new coping skills) and psychotherapy, counselling, exercise therapy (e.g., Tai Chi, social dance, gym-based exercise program, group yoga), occupational therapist–guided interventions (learning how to do activities of daily living safely), music therapy (e.g., choir, rhythm instruments), reminiscence therapy (uses sight, touch, and smell to trigger memories), social interventions (e.g., social group meeting, telephone support, volunteer support), interventions using technology (e.g., using smartphone for video chat, computer training, videoconference with family members, pedometer plus website to track physical activity), other types of therapies, and combinations of therapy types; and
  • therapy was compared with other types of therapy or with no therapy.

Click here to see the Study In older people, some types of therapy improved loneliness and social support in long-term care or community settings | McMaster Optimal Aging

  • By

    McMaster University

  • Published

    Jan 19, 2023

  • Subject Area
    • Caregiving & Caregiver Support
    • Age-friendly Communities
    • Education, Recreation, & Arts
    • Education, Recreation, & Arts
    • Social Connectedness / Social Isolation
    • Physical Activity
    • Mental Health and Wellness
    • General Health and Wellness
  • Audience
    • Academics
    • Service Providers (Non-profits, Community Organizations, Local government)
    • Caregivers, Seniors & Volunteers
    • Health Authorities
  • Category
    • Best Practices


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