Recently the Greenwood Senior Center launched a project to increase social connection among older adults, spurred by statistics on the negative health impacts of social isolation. Lack of social connection has been shown to increase health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. More than one in four adults aged 50+ reported that they felt isolated before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and that number jumped to more than one in two in 2020.
The first part of the project involves engaging and educating the community about programs the Greenwood Senior Center offers that foster social connection. These programs include nationally recognized memory loss and support programs and the PNA Village. They look to form relationships, foster belonging, create opportunities for purpose and meaning, and empower older adults to remain in their homes and connect to their community. The project is particularly focused on inclusion and resource support for isolated elders, LGBTQIA+ elders, and elders affected by memory loss.
The second part of the project involves learning from and collaborating with the community on the best ways to identify and engage older adults who could benefit from increased social connection. This may result in new programs and partnerships at the Center. As part of this effort, the Greenwood Senior Center will hold conversations regarding social connection and would like your input. Examples of topics to be discussed during these conversations include social connection challenges and successes since the pandemic began and anecdotes and ideas about the role of senior centers in increasing social connection.
The Greenwood Senior Center is part of the Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA), serving the greater northwest Seattle area and north King County. PNA’s mission is to build, engage, and support our diverse community through programs, services, and activities that connect neighbors and foster civic engagement. The Social Connection Project is funded by the King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy.
Contributor Teresa Tam is the Social Connection Project coordinator at Greenwood Senior Center. For more information about current programs or to join conversations about future programming, contact Teresa at 206-531-0061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.