Senior Citizens Need Safe, Social Connection Now More Than Ever

Dec 11, 2020, 2:21 PM

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – Social isolation increases the risk of premature death from all causes among our senior citizens.

And loneliness might be extra hard this holiday season because of COVID-19.

The most wonderful time of year can be difficult in 2020. Carmen Moes and her husband live in a senior living community. Her family hasn’t visited them in their apartment since COVID hit.

“That changed everything. That changed life here,” said Moes, who lives at Sagewood at Daybreak. Though she’s pleased with the safe activities Sagewood has provided, not spending time with family has still been hard.

“Not seeing grandchildren, grow up,” she said.

The need for connection is great this year among older adults.

“There are hundreds of thousands of seniors throughout the state of Utah who could use a helping hand and a little extra cheer this year,” said Afton January, Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services communications manager.

Through The Giving Tree, sponsored by AARP, 300 isolated and homebound seniors will receive something special for Christmas.

“We have been shocked and humbled by the outpouring of support from members of the public and community groups,” January said.

Within a week, generous Utahns fulfilled all the gift requests. But there are other ways to help.

“We want to ask people to check in on their elderly loved ones, neighbors and relatives. Maybe there’s someone over 60 who you go to church with that you haven’t seen in a while,” January said.

It doesn’t take much to let a senior know you care: a phone call, a plate of cookies, a letter, can make a big difference. “Go Christmas caroling this year. What a great year to go and do something like that. Wear your mask and be social distanced but still reach out to isolated individuals,” January said.

Moes and her family have found ways to connect safely.

“They’ll take videos and post them. We Facetime, we talk on the phone a lot and texting. We text a lot,” she said.

A kind act to make the holidays a little brighter this year.

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Senior Citizens Need Safe, Social Connection Now More Than Ever