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As people age, it's not uncommon for them to feel as though their social circles are shrinking. There are many reasons for this: retirement, living alone, lower energy levels and/or mobility issues, grown children who live elsewhere, and of course, the social distancing measures necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But whatever the cause, the result is often the same: on average, older adults are at a higher risk for loneliness and social isolation. And, as we'll discuss next, this can be dangerous.

Seniors and Social Isolation

Social isolation does much more than affect your mood. In fact, there's a large volume of research connecting social isolation to a long list of health issues. One study by the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) found that seniors who experience prolonged social isolation are at significantly higher risk for dementia, heart disease, stroke, and death.

In light of these findings, social support and community involvement aren't luxuries for seniors. Rather, they're an integral part of the healthy, independent aging process. Having a social community has been associated with better health outcomes, higher levels of activity, and more positive moods for older adults. On top of that, having a social network can also provide seniors with a sense of purpose and a support network in the event of loss or health issues.

How To Connect Seniors to Community

Many senior living and retirement communities offer opportunities for seniors to socialize with their peers. However, help for isolated seniors who have chosen to age in place can be trickier. Below are a few ideas on how older adults can stay connected:

  • Join a hobby or interest group
  • Sign up for group fitness classes, or find a walking buddy
  • Attend community events, such as religious services, farmers' markets, or public concerts
  • Spend time at community centers
  • Take advantage of senior meal services (both in-person and delivered)

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Your tax-deductible gift helps fund vital programs. Visit our website for more information, or contact us to learn about current volunteer opportunities. We can't wait to work with you!