The Social Connection Project: combating social isolation among seniors

The original version of this blog was posted on Agewise King County.

The Greenwood Senior Center, a Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL) funded Senior Hub recently launched a project called the Social Connection Project. The project aims to increase social connection among older adults, spurred by statistics on the negative health impacts of social isolation. Lack of social connection has been shown to increase health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. More than one in four adults aged 50+ reported that they felt isolated before the COVID-19 pandemic began and that number jumped to more than one in two in 2020. To address social isolation among seniors, the Social Connection Project focuses on 1) engagement and education and 2) community collaboration.

Fostering connection through programs

The first part of the project involves engaging and educating Greenwood Senior Center’s community about programs the Greenwood Senior Center offers that focus on fostering social connection. These programs include nationally recognized memory loss and support programs and the PNA Village. The programs look to form relationships, foster belonging, create opportunities for purpose and meaning and empower older adults to safely remain in their homes while connecting to their community. The project is particularly focused on inclusion and resource support for isolated elders, LGBTQIA+ elders and elders affected by memory loss.

Greenwood Senior Center members participating in a field trip to Bainbridge Island.

Holding conversations

The second part of the project involves learning from and collaborating with the community on the best ways to identify and engage older adults who could benefit from increased social connection. The Greenwood Senior Center will hold conversations to learn from older adults about their experience, the experience of their neighbors and how they think the senior center could support them. The conversations will include discussion on social connection challenges and successes since the COVID-19 pandemic began and anecdotes and ideas about the role of senior centers in increasing social connection.

  • The first conversation will be held on Wednesday, October 20 from 10:30am to 12:00pm at Greenwood Senior Center.
  • The second conversation, which will be held via Zoom, is on Tuesday, October 26 from 10:30am to 12:00pm.

Space is limited. If you are interested in joining the conversations to share your experience or would like to learn more please contact Teresa Tam, the Social Connection Project Coordinator, at 206-531-0061 or teresat@phinneycenter.org.

Additional conversations will be scheduled, if you are interested in participating in a future conversation please contact Teresa Tam.

After the conversations are held, the Social Connection Project team will share what they learned with the community, with senior center partners and nationally to people working to address social isolation in seniors. The conversations will also inform programing to address social isolation.

Greenwood Senior Center

The Greenwood Senior Center is part of the Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA), serving the greater northwest Seattle area and north King County. PNA’s mission is to build, engage and support their diverse community through programs, services and activities that connect neighbors and foster civic engagement. As a VSHSL-funded Senior Hub, Greenwood Senior Center serves as a support and resource center for elders diagnosed and living with Dementia and their caregivers in North King County and offers resources and expertise related to Dementia to the other senior hubs.

Learn more about VSHSL’s Senior Hubs.

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