Known as America’s quietest health risk, social isolation and loneliness affects people indiscriminately. From tweens to seniors and from stay-at-home parents to CEOs, many suffer in silence from the physical and mental health issues related to isolation and loneliness.
Through the efforts of JFCS’ Center for Children and Youth (CCY) and Seniors At Home (SAH), JFCS is combating isolation by providing critical services and resources for those afflicted.
In a time when there are so many ways to stay connected (email, text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), why are so many of our youth feeling isolated and lonely? The percent of high school seniors who said they often felt lonely increased from 26 percent in 2012 to 39 percent in 2017.
The lasting effects of social isolation in adolescence is a growing concern that the Center for Children and Youth is addressing by connecting youth and their parents with supportive services, educating clinicians, and advocating for families.
Research has also linked social isolation and loneliness in older adults to higher risks of many physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.
Additionally, the Census Bureau predicts that by 2030, 20 percent of the American population will be 65 or older. While this is good news as people are living longer due to the advancements of medicine, isolation and loneliness is a growing epidemic within an ever-increasing group.
Seniors At Home has long provided expert in-home care and companionship to seniors. As a leader in Bay Area senior care, they recently expanded their programs to address this growing issue, by adding three new social programs in 2019.
During this time of year, many feel the effects of isolation and loneliness more than usual. JFCS extends an extra effort to communicate with our clients, as well as making sure that nobody goes hungry. Hanukkah bags are colorfully decorated by families and youth volunteers. These wonderful volunteers deliver the bags—filled with food and holiday notes—to seniors in need. The delivery itself is most treasured, as it provides an extended holiday visit, socialization, and warm wishes during the holidays.
JFCS’ Center for Children and Youth and Seniors At Home services are funded by fees for services and by donations for those who cannot afford the full cost of care for these critical services.