Reconnecting Those in
There are many reasons why someone age 50 and older becomes isolated from family and community. It could be an injury or illness; the loss of reliable transportation; a spouse or partner who has Alzheimer’s or another illness that requires constant care; or a job loss that makes the person feel like he or she doesn’t matter. And as a crisis gets worse, it’s easy to become homebound, disconnected, overwhelmed, stranded — or in one word, isolated.
At AARP Foundation, we understand that combating and preventing isolation in people 50 and over isn’t about fixing one thing. We have to look at all the connections that make up a person’s life, and come up with ways to make sure connections stay strong, even in times of stress and crisis.
Lifetime Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting professionally led arts programs for older adults, has brought its services into libraries around the country. Its Creative Aging in America’s Libraries program, supported by AARP Foundation, offers classes in dance, visual arts, writing, drama, sculpture, singing and more. The benefits are many. Studies show that “sequential learning” like this (taking a series of classes or workshops) promotes health, improves cognitive functioning and can even help with disease prevention. And there’s no doubt that taking classes with fellow seniors, interacting with professional art teachers, and showcasing results for the public are great ways to reduce social isolation.
In the last of her series, Rachel Adelson notes that aging at home may require a change in attitude Read
In the second of her series, blogger Rachel Adelson discusses the rising problem with social connectedness among older adults Read
AARP Foundation commissioned ResearchWorks to conduct an in-depth examination of isolation research to serve as a starting point for a discussion about how we understand, define, measure and solve isolation. Download Highlights (PDF) | Full Report (PDF)
A new study shows that, while adults aged 65 years and older are catching up when it comes to being connected to the Internet, the technological divide is growing wider as older, less affluent and disabled citizens are still largely disconnected Read
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(ABC News, July 2014) - Thousands of aging Americans take part in home-sharing programs that allow seniors to stay in their homes and save money while getting some much-needed companionship. Read
(WP, May 2014) - The Washington Post reports a new study on the affect of Internet usage on the emotional state of adults over 50 years old found that rates of depression were lower among those who regularly browse the Web. Read