Humans are social creatures. Our drive to connect enabled our human ancestors to survive and progress to the advanced species we are today. In fact, it’s hard-wired into our DNA. So much so, that when it is denied, our bodies and mental cognition can degrade.

In today’s hyper-connected world, it would seem counterintuitive that we are seeing a growing incidence of isolation. Even today’s “loners,” including those who prefer living much of their lives online, are still seeking connection—albeit not necessarily in the physical world.

How we connect is evolving. But the drive to find a connection with others remains an inescapable part of the human experience.

The National Academy of Sciences conducted a study over several years examining the relationship between social isolation and mortality. Among its findings are that social relationships are vital to our wellbeing. Social isolation, particularly at older ages, is associated with increased risk of depression, disease, illness and cognitive decline.

Part of this can be explained by feelings of perceived loneliness manifesting itself through physical decline. However, the core problem begins with isolation. And today’s smaller families create additional stressors for those supporting aging parents.

Population and demographic shifts will only worsen the situation. The Washington Post reports the U.N. projects 48 countries will see a drop in population by 2050. Japan leads this trend, which has one of the worlds longest life expectancy rates coupled with low fertility rates.

While a 2.1 birth rate is needed to continue Japan’s growth, today it hovers at 1.4. The Japan Times also reports the number of elderly continues to rise, making up 26.7 percent of the population in 2015. Furthermore, 32.5 percent of the more than 51 million households are single person.

These shifts will undoubtedly ripple across the political landscape as countries struggle to adapt to a shrinking workforce. More importantly, however, is the personal and financial impact on tens of millions of working adults who will be supporting their aging family members.

Large families with robust funds to do this are scarce these days. Technological innovation must step up to bridge the gap and help solve the demographic train wreck that’s clearly on its way.