The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and the AARP Foundation launched a campaign called “Expand Your Circles” in November of 2016 to raise awareness of the growing problem of social isolation and loneliness in older Americans. To help seniors and caregivers mitigate the risks of isolation and loneliness, the association created a brochure that outlines risk factors and steps seniors should take to stay “ahead of the connection curve.”
“There’s a lot of stigma associated with admitting to even loved ones that you’re feeling isolated, that your connections have dwindled,” said Dallas Jamison, communications director at n4a. “So we want to combat the stigma issue by getting the word out, letting people know it’s OK, and there are resources for people in their communities.”
Prolonged social isolation can equal the health risks of smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to a report from the AARP Foundation.
The association recommends that seniors take stock of their network of activities and friends and to evaluate what they can to do to make more connections. Some options include: nurture and strengthen existing relationships; schedule time to call or visit friends and family; meet neighbors young and old; and get involved in the community by taking on a cause.
The brochure also provides resources for seniors who feel they are already socially isolated or grappling with chronic loneliness. It advises they visit a primary physician to explain how they are feeling, because “recognizing that you feel isolated or that you’re having trouble maintaining a social network that meets your needs is the first step to improving your quality of life”
Markwood says these connections at a local level are key to mitigating a sense of isolation and loneliness.
The Happy Camp Community Center will be opening on June 1, 2017; our open hours will be from 9am to 4pm, Tuesday through Thursday closed for lunch from 12pm to 1pm. If you are looking for assistance for yourself or a loved one come by the center and we can refer you to Siskiyou County’s MSHA program. Alternatively you can call the Eldercare Locator call center at: (800) 677-1116 or the Friendship Line, 24-hours a day at: (800)971-0016. The campaign brochure can be found here and includes a self-assessment questionnaire.
Information excerpted from a www.usatoday.com article by Karina Shedrofsky.” Campaign helps seniors suffering from social isolation and loneliness”. November 16, 2016.
Happy Camp Community Action, Inc. is a Non-profit organization dedicated to economic development and youth programs in Happy Camp, California and surrounding communities.