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March 07, 2024 Led by Baycrest’s Dr. David Conn, the guidelines address Canada’s loneliness epidemic with resources for health care and social service professionals, older adults and care partners nationwide

TORONTO, March 7, 2024 – The first-of-their-kind clinical guidelines surrounding social isolation and loneliness in older adults have been developed and released by the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health (CCSMH) with the leadership of Dr. David Conn, Vice-President Education, Baycrest Academy for Research & Education.

It is critical that the growing rates of loneliness and social isolation are addressed as they can impact both physical and mental well-being. In fact, the increased risk of death associated with social isolation and loneliness is comparable to that of smoking 15 cigarettes per day. They are also associated with an increased risk of diseases such as stroke and heart disease and a greater risk of anxiety, depression and dementia.

The Canadian Clinical Guidelines on Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults provides health care and social service professionals with 17 evidence-based recommendations that should be considered including prevention, screening and assessment for older adults. These tools will help professionals in supporting older adults who may be at risk of, or are already experiencing, social isolation and loneliness.

These newly released clinical guidelines address the growing loneliness epidemic. While Canadians of all ages are affected, older adults are particularly at risk due to circumstances and changes associated with aging such as lack of energy, often living alone and living with physical limitations. Contributing factors that are associated with aging include transitional life events such as retirement, the death of family or friends or changes in living arrangements.

However, these are not an inevitable part of aging and the health impacts of social isolation and loneliness require a comprehensive approach involving the older adult themselves, healthcare providers, community organizations and policymakers. We can work together to address the risk older adults experience disproportionately by strengthening social connections, which has been linked to decreased disability and premature death.

The good news is that even small increases in social connection have been linked to improvements in physical and mental health. Released along with the clinical guidelines are new resources to support older adults and care partners nationwide.

These guidelines were developed and researched by an interdisciplinary working group consisting of leading subject matter experts in the study of social isolation and loneliness among older adults from coast to coast. Over the course of a year and a half, group members offered their clinical, research and professional expertise, evaluating research evidence, voting on recommendations and writing the guidelines, which can be found at

About Baycrest
Baycrest is a global leader in aging and brain health through research, innovation, care and education, working to defeat dementia and create a world where every older adult enjoys a life of purpose, inspiration and fulfilment. Baycrest is home to a robust research and innovation network, including one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience, the Rotman Research Institute; the scientific headquarters of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, Canada’s largest national dementia research initiative; and the Baycrest-powered Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector. For more information, visit

About the Canadian Coalition for Seniors Mental Health (CCSMH)
The Coalition's mission is to promote the mental health of older adults by connecting people, ideas and resources. The CCSMH is dedicated to advancing the mental well-being of older adults across all settings. As the sole national organization focusing on mental health for older adults, the Coalition is committed to nurturing and growing a coalition of organizations and individuals that, together, will shine a light on the issues surrounding mental health and well-being of older adults. The CCSMH began as a project of the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry (CAGP) and continues to operate with the CAGP Board of Directors oversight.

Media contact:
Natasha Nacevski-Laird
Media Relations Specialist
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