Social Isolation & Loneliness
Social isolation is defined as a lack of social connections. Social isolation can lead to loneliness in some people, while others can feel lonely without being socially isolated, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact.
Some Indigenous elders feel lonely despite how often they receive social contact, and some are socially isolated. The COVID-19 shutdowns and stay-at-home orders in many tribal communities exacerbated this feeling though it provided protection from diseases for them. The National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) reminds our elders that they have survived many changes and obstacles throughout their lives. They are strong and resilient!
Below is a list of resources that will help elders become more socially active or help them receive the help they need to feel fulfilled emotionally, physically and mentally. NICOA has programs to help elders learn new skills such as our Senior Community Service Employment Program. Our blog includes health tips like cooking Indigenous foods or social interaction, and we have many other resources through our many partners.
Remember, elders, you are not alone! You can learn new skills, seek help and information, and learn new ways to live longer and keep healthy and happy.
Check out these fact sheets for caregiving tips and information on resources and activities to help American Indian and Alaska Native elders with social isolation and loneliness during the pandemic.
- Cooking & nutrition: https://nicoaltsscompass.org/nutrition/
- Changing Your Diet: https://www.nicoa.org/indigenous-foods-a-path-to-healthy-living/
- Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), located in seven states, the program can help elders stay active. Elders can receive training to help a tribal program, public agency or nonprofit and receive payment for these temporary jobs.
Exercise & Fitness
- Elders participating in the National Senior Games share how they compete and stay fit and healthy: https://www.nicoa.org/newsroom/videos/native-health-fitness/
- Start moving to live longer: https://www.nicoa.org/exercise-for-a-healthy-life/
Growing Your Social Network/Making Friends
- Social Wellness: https://www.nicoa.org/july-is-social-wellness-month/
- 10 Tips on Reinventing Yourself (Healthy Aging): https://healthyaging.net/healthy-aging-month/10-tips-for-september-is-healthy-aging-month/
- Storytelling: Through storytelling, providers and patients can build relationships while honoring tribal traditions. These stories can be utilized to help motivate tribal members to readopt healthy lifestyles and practices that were traditionally part of their culture. https://www.nicoa.org/storytelling-in-patient-centered-native-healthcare/
- The Native Elder Storytelling Project
Isolation and COVID-19
- Isolation during COVID-19: https://www.nicoa.org/dont-let-social-distancing-isolate-elders/
- Battle Isolation by Staying Engaged: https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/t013-c000-s004-battle-isolation-by-staying-engaged.html