Being social, hanging out, working together, having dinner parties, going to your kids school events – it all seems so easy and sometimes even cumbersome but then for many adults there comes a time when socializing is not part of everyday life anymore. It requires an effort and many people are not prepared for it, they give up. More than 8 million adults age 50 and older are affected by isolation. The health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones. One recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent.
In the age of social connectedness, isolation is a problem more than ever. As more people are living longer and are aging and dying alone, how can we better address this mounting epidemic of social isolation and emotional suffering? What are the multitude of factors, from personal life transitions, poorly designed homes, lack of accessible transportation, and any number of health and wellness challenges, to environmental, cultural, and societal influences? And what impact can we make now and in the future? We will discuss these questions in the context of the work of four San Francisco organizations, San FranciscoVillage, Senior Center without Walls, Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly, and Felton Institute and in the context of the multi-cultural and multi-lingual population of San Francisco, with its variety of health and wellness needs.
Speakers and Moderator:
- Kate Hoepke, Executive Director, San Francisco Village
- Katie Wade, Program Manager, Senior Center Without Walls
- Cathy Michalec, Executive Director, Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly
- Keith Wong, Clinical Case Manager, Felton Institute, Senior Division
- Moderator: Cathy Spensley, Director of Senior Division, Felton Institute