Senior-aged adults experienced a loneliness surge during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, even before the pandemic, 40% of adults over age 65 reported feeling lonely. This makes sense when we consider that social isolation is a major cause of loneliness in senior-aged adults. Despite fewer Covid-19 hospitalizations, the Covid-induced increase in social isolation continues to persist among senior-aged adults. Technology use was embraced by many seniors during the pandemic mainly due to its capacity to enable online interpersonal connections. Medical research findings published in 2022 confirmed this increased Internet and digital device utilization among the elderly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The causes of senior-aged social isolation 

Nearly four in 10 senior-aged adults live with extended family worldwide. However, those in the US rarely do. As of 2020, 28% of community-dwelling seniors lived alone. While death of a spouse or dementia in a spouse are major reasons for increased social isolation among older-aged adults, an increased amount of disability and death among longstanding friends is another cause. The following are four other causal factors: 

  • Relocation by adult children to a new residence far from their senior-aged parents; 
  • Worsened eyesight, leading to reduced driving to engage in social interactions; 
  • Chronic health disorders and physical disabilities that limit visiting family and friends; 
  • Higher risk to contract an infection resulting from large social gatherings.  

At least 50% of adults aged 60 or older are at risk for social isolation, with 33% expected to experience a high degree of loneliness in future, per a recent article in BMC Public Health. In turn, this reveals that a loneliness epidemic in senior-aged adults requires immediate attention. 

The link between loneliness, depression, and chronic health disorders  

Loneliness can lead to chronic depression in both younger and older adults. However, chronic depression in seniors is also strongly-linked to the development of the following chronic health disorders:  

  1. High blood pressure; 
  2. Heart disorders such as arrhythmia; 
  3. Obesity; 
  4. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic depression also increases the risk for chronic pain. In addition, it increases the risk for sleep disorders such as insomnia. Notably, sleep disorders are linked to an increased risk for depression and numerous chronic health conditions. Most of all, chronic depression and sleep disorders both tend to lessen the brain’s release of certain biochemicals – such as Serotonin – that boost mood and stave off depression. 

Mental health benefits of technology utilization in the elderly 

At 70 years of age, two out of three adults in the US have some level of cognitive impairment, most commonly short-term memory deficits and worsened reflexes. Overall, mental health is worsened by cognitive impairments (such as decreased problem-solving capacity). Since chronic depression as well as diverse chronic health disorders can foster increased cognitive impairments, engaging in digital “brain health” activities in can be beneficial for preserving cognitive functioning.  

Brain plasticity & technology use 

Brain plasticity—meaning the capacity for creating new nerve pathways in the brain—boosts cognitive ability and overall brain health. While younger brains have a higher degree of brain plasticity, findings published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience have shown that the elderly can also boost their brain plasticity. This is a particular reason that learning new information and skills (such as the use of tech gadgets) is especially beneficial for the mental health of senior-aged adults. 

Additionally, continuous learning activities have been clinically recognized as protective of cognitive functioning in senior-aged adults. Therefore, learning new technology programs and digital devices can aid elderly individuals to both preserve their level of cognitive function, as well as interrupt further cognitive decline.  

How technology can address the loneliness epidemic 

While technology by itself cannot “cure” the loneliness epidemic, it can certainly help. Senior quality-of-life can be improved by interacting with others via technological approaches, which can boost both mental/emotional well-being and overall health.  

Videoconferencing programs and social media have enabled interpersonal communication to continue among adults living with disabilities that limit their capacity to attend “in-person” social activities. This is especially the case for disabled senior-aged people who can no longer venture far from home. In this way, technology utilization can both lessen social isolation and loneliness – thereby reducing the likelihood of worsened mental health and physical health. 

Ōmcare not only serves as a medication reminder and telehealth interface, but it also connects seniors to loved ones with the simple touch of a button. To learn more about how we’re bringing health and connection into the home, visit