Cultivating strong social connections has been shown to contribute to optimal physical, financial and emotional well-being, thus leading to a longer life.2,3 Evidence suggests this is due to both a general sense of support we receive from friendship, as well as the information and resources that social networks can offer, such as networking for employment or sharing practical advice on important day-to-day decisions. By contrast, social isolation is linked to both higher rates of chronic illness and shorter lives. In part, the negative effects of social isolation may be caused by such poor health behaviors as inadequate sleep, depression, alcohol abuse and physical inactivity. Socially isolated individuals face health risks that are comparable to those of smokers, and their mortality risk is twice that of an obese person.4
A significant body of research supports the idea that building a robust social portfolio can increase an individual’s long-term well-being, a finding corroborated by the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Sightlines Project.1 Individuals, employers, financial institutions, advisers, healthcare systems and communities can all play important roles in fostering an environment that promotes and supports meaningful social connections.