Social Isolation in Older Adults

The growing prevalence of social isolation in the United States was recognized as a risk to public health years before the COVID pandemic. The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH), in partnership with the South Carolina Department on Aging is convening a taskforce comprised of stakeholders from across South Carolina to collaborative identify approaches to address social isolation in older adults. The benefits of increasing social connection in South Carolina are innumerable.

Taskforce meetings will be held monthly in October and November 2022 and January through April 2023. The deliverable of this Taskforce is a report containing research and recommendations, to be released in June of 2023. Recommendations are developed through the cooperation and collaboration of taskforce members during meetings, one-on-one interviews and other workshop methods.


The Institute, in partnership with the South Carolina Department on Aging, is convening South Carolina experts and those with lived experiences to work collaboratively to create state-specific recommendations to reduce social isolation in older adults.

The Social Isolation in Older Adults Taskforce, launched in October 2022, is chaired by former Representative MaryGail Douglas.


Social Isolation: objectively being alone, having few relationships or infrequent social contact.

Loneliness: subjectively feeling alone from a discrepancy between one’s desired level of connection and one’s actual level.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Opportunities for the Health Care System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Members of the Steering Committee
Ann Lewis
Chief Executive Officer, CareSouth
Charmaine Fuller Cooper, MPA
State Director, AARP
Megan Byers, LMSW
Co-Director, Office for the Study of Aging, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health
Jessica Seel, MPH
Director of Behavioral Health Initiatives and Workforce, South Carolina Office of Rural Health
Lori Phillips, MPH, MCHES
Director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Prevention, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
Shelia Cotten, PhD
Associate Vice President for Research Development, Clemson University
Andrew Boozer
Executive Director, Senior Resources, Inc.
Jennifer Brewton, LMSW
Caregiver and Alzheimer’s Resource Divisional Manager and Family Caregiver Support Program Manager, South Carolina Department on Aging
Rowan Goodrich, MS, RD, LD
Nutritionist, South Carolina Department on Aging
Elexias Cotton MSW, MHA
Practice Compliance Coordinator-Adult Advocacy Division, South Carolina Department of Social Services
In August 2017, the work of the ILC was folded into the SC Behavioral Health Coalition (BHC) and their leadership team. IMPH continues to support the BHC and participates on the Executive Leadership Team, the Core Leadership Team and each committee of the BHC.


For more information, contact Justina Siuba

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