JFCS committed to enhancing opportunities for seniors to have social connection and limit isolation

By Roni Falck • JFCS Senior Services Manager

Established in 1963, Older Americans Month (OAM) is celebrated every May. It is a time for us to acknowledge the contributions and achievements of older Americans, highlight important trends, and strengthen our commitment to honoring our older community members.

This year’s theme, Powered by Connection, recognizes the profound impact that meaningful relationships and social connections have on our health and well-being. 

A year ago, the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued a rare advisory focused on the epidemic of loneliness and isolation, and the importance of elevating social connection. The report notes that “social connection is a fundamental human need, as essential to survival as food, water, and shelter.” The report goes on to highlight the toll isolation can take:

  • Lacking social connection is as dangerous to your health as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.
  • Chronic loneliness and social isolation can increase the risk of developing dementia by approximately 50% in older adults.

As we celebrate Older Americans Month, JFCS is committed to enhancing opportunities for social connection to help limit isolation and loneliness. We do this in a number of ways:

  • Working with the Jewish Youth Mentoring Program to pilot our first Intergenerational Game Night, bringing teens and seniors together for games and connection
  • Working with the Hag Sameach program to provide extended visits between volunteers and recipients during the Passover Hag Sameach delivery
  • Hosting Memory Café, which provides an opportunity for people with memory loss and their loved ones to connect with others and engage with community
  • Quarterly offerings of  Powerful Tools for Caregivers, focused on developing skills and connection for family caregivers
  • Piloting an assessment process focused on fostering connection and reducing isolation
  • Celebrating the 22 current matches of volunteer community members paired with Senior Services clients to offer conversation and connection, through outreach visiting, telephone reassurance, and household financial support. Regular connection helps these pairs build trust and develop a strong relationship. Both clients and volunteers report the many personal benefits of participating in these programs.

If you are interested in learning more about ways to connect or other volunteer opportunities that support seniors, check out the volunteer page or reach out to Dana Shapiro, Community & Volunteer Engagement Manager, at dshapiro@jfcsmpls.org or 952-417-2112 to find out more. If you’d like to learn more about JFCS’ services, please reach out to our intake team at 952-546-0616 or intake@jfcsmpls.org.

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