As the world shuts down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, people are hunkering down in their homes. And for many that means increased loneliness, which could lead to depression.

And, older adults are particularly vulnerable. Not only are those over 65 most at risk for serious complications from COVID-19, but as they stay home, they are at risk of becoming socially isolated. Asked to stay away from family and friends, they must find ways to remain connected to the outside world.

According to Tiffany Nicolette, Vice President, Aging in Community for CHAI, there is also the concern that social isolation from the coronavirus could have lasting effects.

Recent research indicates that social isolation has the same negative health effects as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. “It is crucial for us provide alternative ways for our older adults to connect with one another and maintain their friendships,” says Nicolette.

CHAI, which has been on the cutting edge of older adult programming – they are one of the first in Maryland to implement the village concept — believes its latest pilot program with the AARP Foundation may bring immeasurable benefits, particularly now.

Listen to Emily Allen, Senior Vice President of Programming from the AARP Foundation talk about how voice technology is tackling senior isolation and the success of the pilot program in The Associated’s “Pull Up a Chair”. She is joined by Al Welch and Shirley Crowder, residents of Weinberg Village and Weinberg Place, respectively who talk about how the Alexa has made a major difference in their lives. This podcast was recorded prior to the COVID-19 crisis; however the program is more relevant than ever in combating social isolation.

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The Associated Contributors

The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.