Loneliness is not a minor problem for elderly people. Older people who feel isolated and alone suffer from a wide-range of problems. Loneliness has been shown to lead to an increase in dementia rates, nursing home admissions and even an increase in mortality rates.
Elder law advocates are very aware that loneliness in older people also makes them more susceptible to scams and fraud, including being unduly influenced to change their estate plans. As a result, advocates often seek ways to decrease the loneliness that some elderly people feel.
The cure is relatively simple as the New York Times reports in "Loneliness Can Be Deadly for Elders; Friends Are the Antidote."
To overcome loneliness, elderly people need friendships. However, there is a difference in the way that older people maintain friendships compared to the way that younger people often do.
For younger people, friendship is often about volume. They can stave off loneliness by maintaining connections with a large number of people, even if those connections are mostly superficial.
That does not work for elderly people. Instead, older people tend to have fewer friendships and to shed superficial relationships. To overcome loneliness, the elderly need close friendships. One close friendship with regular contact is often enough to avoid the debilitating effects of loneliness.
Reference: New York Times (Dec. 30, 2016) "Loneliness Can Be Deadly for Elders; Friends Are the Antidote."