Socially isolated elderly more likely to use hospital and emergency room resources

Those over age 65 who self-reported as socially isolated were more likely to have a future hospital admission or emergency room visit. The study is published in the peer-reviewed journal Population Health Management.

“These results are novel for 2 reasons,” states David Mosen, Ph.D., MPH, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, and coauthors. “It is the first study to find that social isolation was predictive of future hospital admission and ED utilization among a population of Medicare Advantage members ages 65 and older. Second, the relationship between social isolation and utilization remained significant, even after adjusting for a comprehensive set of demographic and clinical measures.”

“The work of Mosen and colleagues, from one of the most respected health plans in the nation, confirms what was always a hunch —that lonely older folks end up utilizing more health care resources, of all types, as their social situation worsens. So, let’s go upstream to shut off the faucet—provide them with support services—instead of mopping up the floor with more unnecessary emergency room visits and the like. We now have the data to prove just how important this strategy is!” says David Nash, MD, MBA, Editor-in-Chief of Population Health Management and Founding Dean Emeritus and Dr. Raymond C. and Doris N. Grandon Professor, Jefferson College of Population Health, Philadelphia, PA.