In March, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) is asking people to commit to connect with loved ones, friends and neighbors to prevent social isolation and loneliness. Join the conversation by using #CommitToConnect on Facebook and Twitter throughout the first week and share how you are staying connected.
NIA’s experts will answer questions in a Facebook Live Q&A on Thursday, March 4 at 2:00 p.m., EST.
Pandemic Paradox: Isolating Keeps You Safe; Isolation Takes a Toll on Health
Older adults, who are at heightened risk for severe Covid, have long faced a pandemic paradox. Staying isolated at home helps them stay safe, but social isolation can take a toll on health. Loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher risk for health problems such as heart disease, depression, and cognitive decline.
So how can older Vermonters take care of their mental health and stay connected while staying safe? Friends, family, neighbors, and communities are crucial.
Reach Out, Check In: Make a Difference to Keep Elders Connected and Prevent Loneliness
“It’s as simple as reaching out,” says Cathy Aikman, project director for COVID Support VT. The grant-funded program helps Vermonters cope with pandemic stressors through education, emotional support and connections to community services. “A phone call, a safely distanced check-in, a grocery drop-off. These simple acts of kindness can make all the difference.”
COVID Support VT Support Counselors can link Vermonters to supports in their communities. Call 2-1-1, option #2 to speak with a counselor. Counselors are also available to reach out to someone who needs support and a connection. Let us know who could use a call, by filling out this Counselor Contact Form, and we will reach out. Be sure to get permission before sharing contact information.
Learn more about social isolation and loneliness on NIA’s website, and find the information in Spanish also. Download or order a free copy of NIA’s new easy-to-read booklet on social isolation and loneliness.
Tips and Resources for Helping Older Vermonters Stay Connected During Covid-19
Older adults have many tools and options to help them stay engaged, active and connected–both with and without technology. The resources below were compiled by the Administration for Community Living (ACL). Some of them were created with older adults in mind, but the suggestions and resources are good for people of any age.
The ACL’s Commit to Connect program offers information, ideas and resources to help communities combat social isolation and loneliness.
This tip sheet from the ACL provides ideas for socializing and exploring the world through technology, as well as some low-tech suggestions.
How to Fight Social Isolation, an article by Erwin Tan, M.D. for the AARP.
Staying Connected at Home is compiled by ACL-funded Eldercare Locator and engAGED programs.
Feeling Good and Staying Connected is a 17-page comprehensive activity guide from the California Department of Aging.
Caring for the Wellbeing of Older Adults During COVID-19 is a resource guide from the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, a faith-based academic disaster research center at Wheaton College.
How to Become Tech-Savvy Seniors in 10 Days is a guide for older adults on learning to live a digital life.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) offers this guide to video and digital communication tools, which is a convenient first stop for people wanting to connect to each other remotely and understand the pros and cons of various tools for doing so.
SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, compiles trusted information about maintaining emotional well-being in crisis situations, including Resources for Older Adults, and these guides for coping with pandemic safety measures:
- Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak (from SAMHSA)
- How to Cope with Sheltering in Place (from SAMHSA)
Need to talk?
Call 2-1-1 (option #2) or 866-652-4636 (option #2) for free, confidential, one-on-one counseling. Our Support Counselors are available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
If you or someone you care for is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you can: call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-825; text VT to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7; connect with your local community mental health agency for 24/7 support.
One-click translation of the entire COVIDSupportVT.org website to 100 languages, plus Multilingual Resources and downloadable materials in 10 languages common to Vermont’s New American immigrant and refugee communities.
COVID Support VT is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, managed by Vermont’s Departments of Emergency Management and Mental Health, and administered by Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of 16 non-profit community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services and supports.