Loneliness is overwhelming America’s seniors - Live Interactive Learning is preventing it

Life-Long Learning May 21, 2020

It is the paradox of the ages — as George Bernard Shaw or Oscar Wilde (depending on which source you credit) — once said, “youth is wasted on the young.”

As people get older many changes lead to a more solitary lifestyle. The older one gets the more social circles seem to shrink, even though retirement tends to mean that seniors have even more time to socialize — for many that may not be possible. Changes in health and mobility for both seniors and their social circle can often lead to less contact. People move away or pass away, and socializing at jobs and in other areas may diminish or decrease altogether. Now, with social distancing measures in place for both young and old, many of America’s seniors are overwhelmed with a sudden sense of loneliness or are sinking even deeper into a state that was already present prior to the pandemic.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found that adults 60 years and older who reported feeling lonely had a higher risk for functional decline in addition to the increased risk of death. According to the study, functional decline manifested specifically in participants’ abilities to perform daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, and eating that are necessary for truly independent living. Thus, if loneliness is left unchecked it could potentially threaten the ability of an elderly person to live independently.

According to an article by the National Institute on Aging, “research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.”

How can seniors socialize and remain safe in order to ensure that the largest pandemic — loneliness — doesn’t swallow them?

GetSetUp is ensuring that seniors have the ability to socialize through live interactive learning sessions in order to prevent loneliness and combat the possible side effects of it setting in. It leverages a workforce of senior educators, Guides, to teach their peers in live interactive sessions, where seniors have the opportunity to learn a new skill, socialize, and gain confidence in the possibilities available to them in our technological world.

Guides help on-board their peers through live video sessions where students get to ask as many questions as they want as well as share their screen and practice the skills they are learning. This empathetic classroom environment with either a peer educator or a small group of peers creates a sense of community and establishes a social connection, even while seniors are still upholding social distancing measures. Furthermore, it helps adult learners with limited mobility and health issues to feel as much a part of the community as their more active peers.

Imagine navigating complicated government forms through live interactive sessions where learners can interactively work together, do together, and stay connected with peers.

Why can’t seniors just watch a Youtube video or the recast Webinar from last month?

First off, it’s boring (even I think that and I have a few years left to go until I reach 50). Secondly, 9 times out of 10 the video and speaker are not using the same version of the device and/or software that you have in front of you, so it is hard to follow. Thirdly, there is no chance to ask questions. Fourthly, it’s frustrating since oftentimes it is going way too fast to follow and the viewer constantly has to stop and restart the video. Most importantly, it DOES NOT help fight loneliness. If anything the combined frustrations above make the viewer feel even lonelier.

Live Interactive Learning helps to prevent loneliness with a myriad of benefits. Look at all these great perks:

Benefits

  • More seniors have work opportunities — as Guides!
  • There are economic benefits for Guides, companies, institutions, and organizations since classes help seniors be more empowered as technology consumers.
  • Stay connected with others in the live classroom with groups and communities — an epidemic affecting 3/4 of Americans
  • Seniors get to learn with their peers in self-paced empathetic environments
  • Friendships are created
  • Community is built
  • Seniors learn new skills to help empower themselves.
  • Classes are FUN!

Do your part to start to reduce loneliness, teach a new skill, and reduce the negative effects of social isolation. Find out more about how GetSetUp can ensure that your senior community is engaged, connected, and has the tools to battle loneliness by seeing how a partnership could help your organization.

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