Even Non-Face-to-Face Social Interactions May Prevent Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults Living Alone

January 17, 2023

January 17, 2023
Contact: Ellen Mullally

The pandemic took its toll on the mental health of many individuals, including older adults living alone. According to a new study in the January issue of JAMDA, these people had a higher risk of depressive symptoms, but non-face-to-face social interactions may have buffered this negative impact on their mental well-being.

In Living Alone and Depressive Symptoms Among Older Adults in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Role of Non-Face-to-Face Social Interactions, the authors’ findings suggest the importance of supporting older adults living alone in times of social restrictions such as the pandemic. They further suggested that maintaining social connections, even if that means non-face-to-face relationships, can help maintain their mental health.

The authors conducted a multinominal logistic regression analysis to examine the association of living arrangements with changes in the status of depressive symptoms. They concluded that living alone was significantly associated with the onset of depressive symptoms. At the same time, weekly non-face-to-face social interactions seemed to have a protective effect against the onset of signs of depression for older adults living alone.

The authors concluded, “Recently, the health benefits of non-face-to-face social interactions as well as face-to-face interactions have received attention.” This study, they suggested, adds empirical evidence about the moderating effects of non-face-to-face social interactions on mental decline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Extensive social networks also may mitigate adverse health risks, including poor mental health.

“For those living alone who may experience a sudden shortage of available social resources due to the pandemic, having non-face-to-face social connectedness, including via phone and email, may have an important protective effect against depressive symptoms,” the authors said.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Social Science, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Obu, Japan; Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan; and Department of Rehabilitation and Care, Seijoh University, Tokai, Japan.

Get more information on the findings above and more details about the study. To contact the researchers or JAMDA editors for an interview, please email emullally@paltc.org.





JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit www.jamda.com for more information.


About AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit www.paltc.org for more information.