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In May, 2023 Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy, put out an advisory linking isolation & loneliness in older adults to serious health outcomes including high blood pressure, heart disease, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and even death.

According to Dr. Murthy, "Connection is the essential glue of our lives. It is what brings us happiness and fulfillment. We need social connection for our survival and collective well-being."

Spectrum’s newest senior service program, Connect, was created to facilitate connections between friendly visitors and callers and housebound older adults to alleviate social isolation and loneliness.  In November, 2023, we began training  and matching volunteers with older adults who desire companionship through in-home visits or telephone reassurance calls, if they are unable to meet in person.  

Meeting and connecting with a friendly visitor on a regular basis helps lift the spirits of socially isolated older adults. Sharing interests is a great way to build bridges, but often just being present and listening empathetically goes a long way towards enhancing another person’s quality of life.  We all need to be heard; to be seen. John Tarrant, director of the Pacific Zen Institute, teaches that “Attention is the most basic form of love. So, when we give our undivided attention to another person, it is love that we show them.

Volunteers also benefit from building these new relationships. Older adults often have so much wisdom to impart and interesting life stories to share. One volunteer reflected on her experience, “singing old songs was wonderful…it is a great way to bring a smile and share a cheerful moment.”  Our volunteers unanimously agree that the services they render are worthwhile and the clients positively benefit from their visits. 

The Surgeon General also advises, “To address this crisis of loneliness, we need to return to the core values of kindness, generosity and friendship that are so essential to the fabric of our communities.”  Your attention and kindness to others can help solve this epic problem. It does not take a great deal of time and effort to make a difference.  A smile or a kind word or gesture can make the world a better place to live in. 

We encourage you to consider becoming a friendly visitor or caller and making an impact in the lives of older adults in your community. Click here for more information or to sign-up today.

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Your tax-deductible gift helps fund vital programs. Visit our website for more information, or contact us to learn about current volunteer opportunities. We can't wait to work with you!

Your willingness to connect can make a difference!