Knowledge synthesis for mechanistic and targeted in-person and digital social-connection intervention for wellness and resilience in older adults in pandemic context and beyond
Extended periods of social isolation and loneliness can have a negative impact on individual physical and mental well-being. This problem is particularly troubling for older adults as loneliness and isolation are risk factors for depression, heart disease, and premature death. Because they are also at greater risk of complications from COVID‑19 infections, seniors have been especially targeted by social and physical distancing measures, further limiting their social interactions. In a post-lockdown world where social restrictions are likely to last for vulnerable aging populations, it is important to find the appropriate balance between physical distancing and social connection (be it in-person, digital, or a combination of both) to promote older adults’ long term well-being and resilience. This project aims to answer the following questions: Among older adults, who are the most vulnerable to the mental health effects of social isolation? What strategies are the most likely to succeed in preventing or mitigating the effects of social isolation? To this end, we will review the most recent scientific evidence and share our findings with ‘knowledge users’ such as healthcare professionals, policymakers, and patient groups. Building upon these findings, we will be able to simulate different interventions using a digital platform known as SynthEco. This platform will assist decision-makers in evaluating the potential benefits and harms of the in-person and digital interventions identified by our project.