Reducing Older Adult Isolation: More Relevant Than Ever

As it’s become apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic will be with us for the foreseeable future, it has likewise become clear that the Foundation’s strategic initiative to reduce older adult isolation has become more relevant than ever. 

While we are all experiencing a higher degree of isolation as we seek to slow the spread of disease, older adults have been particularly suffering.  Nationally, some experts have called for changing language around ‘social distancing’ to ‘physical distancing,’ highlighting the importance of continued social engagement via technology and other safe avenues.  Identifying and supporting these creative opportunities has temporarily become the focus of the Foundation’s work around older adult isolation while our collaborative planning grant to create a large scale system to reduce older adult isolation remains on hold to allow our nonprofit partners to focus on ongoing crisis response.

We have also heard about a wide variety of online classes and discussion groups being offered by organizations, such as the Greenhouse Project and NeighborWorks NEPA’s Aging in Place Program

Many national organizations are likewise offering free online programming and friendly phone calls geared towards older adults who may be isolated.  One example is Senior Planet, which offers free classes both online and by phone, many geared toward teaching older adults how to use different types of technology.  The organization even has a national tech support hotline to help older adults on a one-on-one basis with any technology issues they are experiencing.

We are continuing to seek opportunities to learn more about the current needs of isolated older adults and to support programming that meets those needs, so if your organization has information to share, please reach out to me at any time.

For more information about the Foundation’s work to support older adult isolation, feel free to contact me.

Christine Marcos
Program Officer