Has your physician asked about your social connections? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Keeping engaged with others is an important part of a healthy living plan, with a recent Johns Hopkins study finding that social isolation increased older adults’ risk for developing dementia by 27%. Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrics expert at Hopkins and one of the study’s authors, says this study adds to growing awareness of the need to remain connected to others, and says people shouldn’t be surprised when their physician asks about these interactions.

Cudjoe: Having a health care provider think about these issues and essentially assess for it is something that is important. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine produced a report that specifically focused on social and behavioral domains that should be captured in an electronic health record. And one of those domains that was included in this was the domain around the importance of social connections.  :21

Cudjoe notes that technology can help in both assessment of social isolation and overcoming it, with texting and apps that enable audio and video engagement especially useful. He says while these skills initially seem difficult to learn for some, they are empowering once mastered. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.