Encyclopedia of Geropsychology

Living Edition
| Editors: Nancy A. Pachana

Loneliness and Social Embeddedness in Old Age

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-080-3_70-1



Loneliness is an unpleasant and distressing experience that accompanies a perceived deficiency in social relationship quantity or quality. Loneliness is not synonymous with objective social isolation. People can be alone without feeling lonely, and, conversely, people can feel lonely even when with many others. The subjective nature of loneliness has given rise to an alternate term for loneliness, namely, “perceived social isolation.” There is no obvious term for the opposite of loneliness, but “social embeddedness,” “belongingness,” and “connectedness” are common surrogates.


Loneliness is a prevalent experience across the lifespan. Available studies conducted in developed countries indicate that as many as 40 % of adults over 65 years of age report being lonely at least sometimes. Approximately 5–15 % of adults of this age report feeling lonely frequently, but that figure increases to about 50 % of adults 80 years...


Social Embeddedness Loneliness Scale Social Loneliness UCLA Loneliness Scale Emotional Loneliness 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Academic Research CentersNORC at the University of ChicagoChicagoUSA