After over a year of isolation and limited exposure to people outside of our immediate families due to COVID-19, we all have a better understanding of the importance of social connection. Unfortunately, for some, this lack of connection may not improve even after COVID-19 passes. Every day seniors throughout Central Washington live alone and in isolation—resulting in significant impacts on emotional and physical well-being.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a lack of meaningful social connections can result in a reduced quality of life, unhealthy behaviors, and adverse health outcomes. Loneliness can lead seniors to eat unhealthy diets, increase smoking and alcohol consumption, and reduce physical activity. This, in turn, can result in illnesses like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, pain, fatigue, insomnia, depression, and dementia. The emotional toll can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
However, the NIH notes that people who engage in meaningful social connections have a more positive outlook on life, make better health choices, improve their cognitive function, and feel a stronger sense of purpose.
Catholic Charities Senior Companion Volunteers are on the front lines, providing seniors that essential social connection. Senior companions most often visit seniors in their home, giving them something to look forward to and providing much-needed connection to the world outside their door. Whether it’s playing a game, doing crafts, taking a trip to the grocery store, or just visiting, senior companion volunteers help seniors overcome loneliness and live better, more productive lives.
Catholic Charities Senior Companion program is part of AmeriCorps Seniors, a national organization that provides volunteer opportunities to seniors 55 and older so they can use their years of experience in support of their local community. Currently, Catholic Charities welcomes senior companion volunteers in communities throughout eastern Washington including Yakima, Kittitas, Klickitat, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Walla Walla, Benton, and Franklin Counties. Learn more or volunteer today at CCseniors.org.