Research is beginning to shed light on how we can increase social connection for older adults.  Social isolation became an increasing concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even prior to that, older adults were already at serious risk for isolation. Beyond the obvious quality of life concerns, there are significant related health concerns as well. In fact, social isolation has been proven to have direct negative impacts on blood pressure, chronic disease, depression, and vulnerability to abuse and neglect. The Foundation is investing in innovative solutions that can be implemented locally to increase social connection for older adults. When older adults are socially connected, they can share the wisdom and rich experience they have built up over the years to move our communities forward together.

In December 2019, the Foundation awarded a planning grant to a collaborative of organizations working together to design an innovative community system to increase social connection for older adults in Lackawanna County. The group is led by the United Way of Lackawanna, Wayne & Pike Counties and includes a total of nearly 30 partner organizations ranging from social service agencies, institutions of higher education, and the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging, to health care providers. Despite challenges related to COVID, the collaborative persisted and completed their plan for a coordinated system that includes a:

  • Shared screening tool to measure social isolation, broadly implemented among local health and social service organizations
  • Team of trained navigators responsible for connecting isolated older adults with the services and supports that they want and need to increase social connection
  • Corresponding public awareness campaign about social isolation and its health impacts

The group presented an overview of their plan to the community through a virtual webinar, which can be viewed below. 

The collaborative is currently proceeding with a three-year pilot to test implementation of their plan. Moses Taylor Foundation is excited to continue to support this effort, and happy to have additional funding from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Health Care Foundation, Scranton Area Community Foundation, and The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

As work on this large-scale system continues, the Foundation is also exploring additional opportunities to support innovative programming that strengthens social connections among older adults.

Webinar Outlining Reducing Older Adult Isolation System

Working as a Collaborative

Capacity Building Older Adult Isolation Responsive Grantmaking