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Social isolation among the senior population is a big problem—one that can have major consequences for the mental and physical health of those who suffer from it.

Unfortunately, maintaining a sense of community and connection is often easier said than done for older adults. Factors like living alone, mobility and health issues, and lack of access to transportation can make social connection for elderly individuals difficult.

However, that doesn't mean that older adults are doomed to loneliness. With the right tools and a little bit of effort, even home-bound seniors can enjoy the benefits of social engagement. If you or a loved one is struggling with isolation, the following ideas are great starting points for increasing your sense of connectedness and community:

  • Participate in social activities for seniors. From cooking classes to hobby clubs to exercise groups, look for opportunities to spend time with others. Start by contacting local senior or community centers and asking if they sponsor any activity groups for older folks. Public bulletin boards (like those at your local library) are also a great place to look.
  • Utilize technology. One of the best things about the digital age we live in is the ability to easily maintain relationships across great distances—without even having to leave your home!
    If technology isn't your strong suit, ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to install an app like Zoom, Skype, or Facetime, and show you how to use it. Alternatively, contact your local senior center or library to ask if they offer classes for older adults.
  • Take advantage of social services for seniors. If you're having trouble finding opportunities for social connection, know that help is available. Ask your doctor or a nearby senior center to connect you with a social worker. Alternatively, check with local nonprofits or community organizations to see if they provide senior support programs.

Spectrum Connect Is Fighting Back Against Isolation

At Spectrum, we have witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects that isolation has had on our senior clients, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Connect, our newest program, was created to address that need. Through Connect, we provide reassurance calls, visits, and deliveries of pet food and supplies.

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. Contact us to learn more about our services, including Connect, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!

Knowing how to respond to a heat wave can potentially save your life (or someone else's). Between 2010 and 2019, nearly 600 California residents are reported as having died as a result of heat exposure. As shocking as that number is, experts agree that it's likely an underestimate—the real number could be as high as 3,900 people.

Fortunately, with the right preparation and knowledge, many heat-related deaths are preventable. Here, we'll cover some of the most fundamental heat wave safety practices:

  • Know the signs of heat stroke. Being able to identify the signs of heat-related illnesses (either in yourself or others) can ensure that you're able to take action and get help quickly. Muscle cramps, heavy sweating, tiredness, dizziness, headaches, and nausea can all be signs of a dangerously high body temperature.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. During a heat wave, it's extremely important to drink a lot of water, even if you don't feel thirsty. Consider also adding a sports drink to the mix to help replenish important minerals and electrolytes. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, which will dehydrate you.
  • Stay inside. During a heat wave, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible, especially in the middle of the day (~10am-3pm). If staying indoors all day isn't possible for you, try to limit your time outside to the mornings and evenings, when the worst of the heat has passed.
  • Keep your home cool. During the hottest part of the day, use the following heat wave safety tips to keep your home as cool as possible:
    • close the windows
    • cover sun-facing windows with shades, drapes, or awnings
    • hang up wet towels
    • turn off any non-essential lights and electrical devices

      Keep in mind that while electric fans can help make you more comfortable, they shouldn't be considered a replacement for air conditioners, and they don't always prevent heat-related illnesses.

      If you're still uncomfortably hot, take cool showers during the day to bring your body temperature down. Remember to wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Check in on others. Elderly individuals, individuals who are chronically ill or overweight, infants and children, and people who work outside are usually at the highest risk for heat-related illnesses. If you know someone who falls into one of those categories, check in on them regularly during the heat wave.

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. Contact us to learn more about our services, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!

The last several years have seen record-breaking heat waves sweep, both in California and the rest of the country. Thanks to global warming, climate scientists are predicting that summers are only going to get hotter.

What Is a Heat Wave?

If you live in California, you might be wondering what qualifies as a heat wave and what's normal summer warmth. According to experts, hot weather qualifies as a heat wave when temperatures remain above 90 degrees for at least 2-3 days.

How To Make Sure You're Ready for a California Heat Wave

Heat waves are uncomfortable for most people, but they can be particularly dangerous for older adults, children, and individuals who are sick or overweight. Even people who are healthy can suffer from heat-related illness if they don't prepare themselves properly.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for the next heat wave that hits California. Below is a checklist of important heat wave safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Have a source of air conditioning. Most modern homes have air conditioning. However, in the event that yours doesn't (or it stops working due to a heat-related power outage), have a backup plan for where you'll go when temperatures start to rise. That might be a friend's house or a public facility like a library. If no immediate options come to mind, check out California's database of Cooling Centers.
  • Have plenty of water on hand. Heat-related power outages can result in reduced access to water in your home. Stock up on a case of water bottles, or buy a 5-gallon jug and keep it filled at all times.
  • Equip yourself properly. If you have to go outdoors during a heat wave, experts recommend wearing clothes that are light-colored and loose-fitting, sunscreen, and a hat. Be sure to stock up on these things in advance so you're not caught off guard when the heat wave hits.
  • Weatherize your home. A home that is properly insulated with well-functioning appliances will be much more comfortable in a heat wave. Plus, having your air conditioner and other appliances maintained regularly will reduce their risk of breaking down when they're put to the test during a heat wave. Take care of any repairs that you've been putting off, or look into weatherization assistance programs in your area.

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. Contact us to learn more about our services, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!

Earthquakes can happen at any time without warning. When they do, reacting quickly and correctly can be the difference between life and death. Here, we'll cover the basics of earthquake safety, including what to do during and immediately after a quake occurs.

  • Drop, cover, and hold. Particularly if you are inside a building, this set of actions is the best way to protect yourself. Drop down to your hands and knees to keep from being knocked off your feet. Look for sturdy furniture (such as a desk or table) to cover If none is available, get as close as possible to an interior wall or low furniture that won't fall on you, and shield your head and neck with your arms. Once there, hold on until the shaking stops.

    If you are inside, don't run outside or into other rooms during an earthquake. Stay away from windows and outside walls as much as possible.
  • If you are outside, stay outside. If you find yourself outdoors when an earthquake occurs, move away from buildings, trees, utility poles, and fuel/gas lines. Try to find an open area and stay low to the ground. You're most likely to be hurt by falling debris or the collapse of outer walls of buildings.
  • If you are in a crowded place, stay put. If you are in a public place with lots of other people, avoid rushing outside—this can cause a stampede, which can exacerbate your danger. Try to move away from anything that might fall on you, and seek cover if it's available. If not, get down and cover your head. Stay where you are until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in a car, stay in the car. If you are driving while the earthquake begins, pull over as soon as possible and set your emergency brake. Try to avoid stopping underneath a telephone pole or bridge, and stay in your vehicle until the shaking stops.
  • Get away from the shore. Severe earthquakes (those with intense shaking that lasts more than 20 seconds) can cause a tsunami. If you are near the ocean, evacuate inland or to higher ground as soon as possible after the earthquake is over. You want to be at least 2 miles away from the shore, or at least 100 feet above sea level.

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. Contact us to learn more about our services, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!

California is no stranger to earthquakes. According to the California Department of Conservation, each year, residents of the state can expect to experience 2-3 earthquakes of at least 5.5 magnitude (that's big enough to cause moderate damage to homes and buildings).

Earthquakes can occur at any time, too, and their unpredictability is part of what makes them so dangerous. Although scientists have been able to construct models that help them estimate where and when the next earthquake will occur, unfortunately, we still don't have a way of predicting earthquakes with any certainty.

A Guide to Earthquake Preparation

For these reasons, preparing for an earthquake is essential for anyone living in an area where these disasters frequently occur. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to keep you and your family safe:

  • Make an earthquake kit. Depending on the severity of the earthquake, crucial infrastructure like electricity, water, and grocery stores might not be available. Having an earthquake survival kit ready to go will ensure that even if you're trapped at home without access to resources, you'll be okay. Below are a few things to put in your kit:
    • First aid kit
    • Enough water and food to last about three days
    • Warm clothing and blankets
    • Flashlight and batteries
    • Extra cash
    • Battery-operated radio
  • Make a plan. In the event that an earthquake happens while you're at work or away from home, you might become separated from your family members. Designate a safe place for everyone to reunite, and ask a friend or family member who's not in the area to serve as your family's emergency contact in the event that you're not able to make local calls.
  • Earthquake-proof your home. In California, building codes require that most newer buildings comply with a set of seismic safety requirements. However, older buildings that predate those codes might be less resilient to earthquakes. If you're unsure of your home's earthquake readiness, consider asking a professional to come inspect your home and identify any major structural weaknesses.

    Inside your home, be sure to secure any tall, heavy furniture or wall mountings, such as shelves, decorations, and light fixtures. Store heavy and/or breakable items closer to the ground in case they fall. Be sure to also check your electrical wiring and gas lines to make sure they're sound—if these things are defective or weak, they can be a potential fire hazard in the event of an earthquake.

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. Contact us to learn more about our services, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!