Isolation is a growing health epidemic for adults age 50 and older. A 2015 study in Perspectives on Psychological Science cites that “prolonged isolation can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” A national initiative, connect2affect, is taking aim at social isolation and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) is a key partner. The goal is to create a network that meets the needs of anyone who is isolated or lonely and helps build the social connections older adults need to thrive.
In collaboration with the AARP Foundation, n4a has launched a public education campaign to raise awareness of how and why isolation is affecting older Americans. The campaign runs through January and encourages conversations during family and friend gatherings this season. Materials available include a consumer brochure “Expand Your Circles: Prevent Isolation and Loneliness As You Age” and a toolkit for developing educational outreach on this issue.
Locally, Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging will follow this campaign and seek conversations on the issue of isolation with the Twin Cities aging services provider network.
For more on this important topic, check out “Campaign Confronts Elderly Isolation, which Carries Health Risks” in the Star Tribune and “The Growing Health Threat For Older Adults You Should Be Aware Of” in the Huffington Post.