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Alone and at Risk

Staying in touch is good for your health

Isolation; alone and at risk; health; family; friends

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Here's a lifesaving health tip: Add "spend time with family and friends" to your to-do list. Research shows that social detachment — having few close relationships — is as bad for you as smoking and worse than obesity. Older adults can become isolated by life situations such as lack of transportation, landing this issue squarely on AARP Foundation's radar screen.

To learn more about solitary Americans, the foundation sent surveys last spring to select AARP Foundation Tax-Aide sites, focusing on the ones more likely to serve a less engaged population.* Ten percent of the 15,000 people who returned the two-page questionnaire reported they had trouble "staying connected" with family, friends and neighbors. Next steps for AARP Foundation: learning how to help repair and strengthen the broken links.

*Site selection was based primarily on U.S. Census data (percentage of people age 65-plus living alone, with disabilities, and percentage of those 60-plus living in rural areas). Findings are not generalizable to the general U.S. population nor to the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide taxpayer population.

Also of interest: 7 things to know about isolation.

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Caregiving Resource Center

Resources, tools and tips to help you manage the care of a loved one. Go

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AARP Benefits QuickLink

See if you qualify for public assistance and you can save money on health care, medication, food, utilities, and more! Go

Isolation Grants Program

View a list of the current grantees, along with summaries of their programs. Read

Isolation in the

Documentary Details Challenges Facing LGBT Seniors Seeking Care

(Ventura County Star, Calif., Jan. 15) - "Gen Silent" follows the stories of six LGBT seniors needing care but afraid, for various reasons, to ask for help. The documentary mentions how AARP and other organizations are offering help, such as providing information on LGBT-friendly care and other resources. Read

Old, Frail and in Harm's Way

(N.Y. Times, Nov. 5) - In a major disaster like Hurricane Sandy, the frail elderly often need more than the help of family and friends. Read