How MOWCTX Takes on Increased Senior Social Isolation During the Pandemic
May 28, 2021
Studies have shown that nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older, nationwide, are considered to be socially isolated. Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss. Our holistic approach to senior care includes programs to help battle senior isolation and loneliness.
As with all of our services, the COVID-19 pandemic and safety measures have limited our ability to see clients in person. We also realized that connection and engagement with our senior clients is more important than ever during these times of quarantine and social distancing. So, we recommitted our efforts to stay connected with the seniors we serve.
First, our case management team called all of our clients more regularly to check in on them during the pandemic. We also re-implemented our Care Calls program, matching volunteers and staff with clients most at risk for senior isolation so that those most in need received even more calls to ensure they were safe and healthy.
We also worked with our friends at the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin to evaluate the impact of a similar four-week program named “Sunshine Calls.” The study with 240 of our MOWCTX clients showed that the friendly calls significantly reduced loneliness, depression and anxiety and improved the general mental health of our clients within four weeks. The results were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 2021 and the link to the full text can be found online at https://sites.utexas.edu/factorhealth/sunshinecalls/. Once the program concluded, many of the participants then joined our ongoing Care Calls program.
During the pandemic, Mike’s Place, our respite program for adults and seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of memory loss, switched to virtual programming for participants. Volunteers for the program deliver weekly activity kits that complement the virtual meetings. Our volunteers also join clients for socially-distanced porch visits.