** This session earns RN and CCM Ethics **
Loneliness and social isolation really are life and death matters. Social isolation is now believed to be as influential on mortality as obesity and smoking. This presentation examines the prevalence of the problem, the social factors that contribute to it, the risk factors, and some of the ways we can intervene to prevent isolation or help curb it once it has begun. The "elder orphan" is a significant part of the isolation phenomenon and will be discussed at length. This population of seniors is growing exponentially. The percentage of childless, frail elderly is expected to increase by 18% as the Baby Boom generation ages. Already, one in three Baby Boomers is unmarried. The likelihood of becoming an "orphan" has never been greater, and this demographic trend requires attention. This presentation will examine the issues and challenges of aging on one's own, the legal issues that arise, and the particular need to protect this population from exploitation and neglect.