Connecting with the Elderly

National News

REPORTER SARAH DALLOF: 

As the pandemic rages on — so does isolation for many seniors.

A recent study from Johns Hopkins finds double the number of older Americans say they’re experiencing psychological distress compared to 2018.

Part of that is loneliness, and can affect physical and mental health.

CG Dr. Christina Prather, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences: 

“There’s a real impact on cognitive health, memory loss, mental sharpness, ability to do advanced thinking as well as depression and anxiety.”

DALLOF: 

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences is working to combat social isolation — with a program that matches dc-area seniors and volunteers – all medical students- via phone.

While they can connect callers with health services — the calls are meant to be conversational, not medical.

CG Olivia Silva, Medical Student:

“I remember talking to one senior who said something along the lines of it being too good to be true that this service exists.”

DALLOF: 

Special connections that have been so successful, the school plans to keep the program going post-pandemic.

Dr. Christina Prather, GWU School of Medicine: 

“We need to build more bridges across generations and this is an opportunity to build bridges and give people a local grandparent.”

DALLOF: 

IN BOSTON —

Outreach comes sealed and stamped — the “Letters Against Isolation” campaign – started by two sisters – has sent more than 18,000 pieces of mail.

CRAZY QUICK CG! Saffron Patel, Letters Against Isolation:

“It’s just so lovely to have this community during this lonely time.”

DALLOF: 

Lines of communication helping combat social isolation and loneliness.

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