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Staying Connected is a Key to Healthy Aging

AARP works to keep older people in touch with each other

spinner image group of senior friends posing for a selfie as they hike in the countryside
Getty Images

May is Older Americans Month, first designated as such by President John F. Kennedy more than 60 years ago. It is a time to remind ourselves of the indispensable contributions that our growing 50-plus population has made and continues to make to the progress and vitality of our nation.

The U.S. government made “Powered by Connection” the theme for this year’s Older Americans Month to call attention to the profound link between staying in touch with other people and emotional and mental health.

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At AARP, we couldn’t agree more that connection is an essential part of aging well. 

But recent data suggests that America is in danger of becoming a nation of loners. A 2023 advisory report by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy revealed that America is in the throes of an epidemic of isolation that imperils both the health of our people and the future of our democracy. He cited research showing that roughly one in two adults in America “reported experiencing loneliness.”

Dr. Murthy called social isolation an “underappreciated” public health crisis associated with a 29 percent increased risk of heart disease, a 32 percent increased risk of stroke and a 50 percent increased risk of developing dementia for older adults. He warned that if we continue to “splinter and divide,” our communities will face dire consequences.

AARP has long taken a deep interest in keeping people connected, as part of our core mission to promote happier, healthier lives as we get older.

spinner image jo ann jenkins chief executive officer of a a r p
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

That’s why we seek to empower more older Americans to get up, get out and get active in their communities through fun and fulfillment activities and digital connections.

Technology is an essential part of living, but many older people have a hard time staying on the cutting edge and accessing the fastest internet connections. We set out to change that when Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) became an AARP affiliate. OATS’ mission is to harness the power of technology to change the way we age. Through its flagship program, Senior Planet from AARP, OATS works closely with older adults in community settings to create extraordinary experiences in person and online.

AARP also brings hundreds of thousands of older Americans together through our Virtual Community Center (VCC). The center is a place to find online concerts, cooking classes, yoga sessions and other fun and educational events to share with like-minded people. Since its inception during the pandemic, the VCC has attracted more than 5 million unique visitors 50 and older. 

Our bodies, minds and communities are only as strong as the ties that bind them.

Connecting with others in your community, online or in person, is a great way to prevent loneliness, stay healthy, promote social cohesion and bring joy to yourself and others. Check out what AARP offers to help you achieve those connections.

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