Virtual ‘Community Conversations’ on Social Isolation and Loneliness Continue

Jun 3, 2020

Age-friendly communities and MHAC partners are working to respond to social isolation and loneliness among older adults, both locally and statewide.

MHAC is supporting a work group led by AARP Massachusetts and UMass Boston to conduct community conversations on social isolation and loneliness that are focused on different regions of the state. The final conversation will take place on June 9th from 10am -12pm and is geared towards communities and stakeholders in the North Shore and Merrimack Valley. Those interested may register here.

Past findings from University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging have been re-released and can provide clues about older adults’ current experiences on social isolation and loneliness.

In October 2018, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA) asked a national sample of adults age 50 to 80 about their health, health behaviors, and feelings related to companionship and social isolation.

Video technology, which has become an essential tool for most people these days, can play a key role in safely connecting to isolated friends and family members and combating loneliness in older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Of the 54 percent of older adults who said they were grandparents in 2018, more than half reported using video chat, such as Skype or FaceTime, to speak to their grandchildren and families in the past year.

Additionally, NPHA data from May 2019 found that over 50 percent of older adults rated themselves as at least somewhat comfortable with using video chat technology. However, 20 percent said they were not comfortable, and 28 percent said they had never used video chat technology, indicating some gaps in tech savviness among older adults.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a podcast focused on the topic featuring an interview with Dr. Craig Thomas, director of CDC’s Division of Population Health.