A Pilot Study Of The Impact Of An Intergenerational Program For Socially Isolated Seniors: Examining LINKages
Keywords:social isolation, intergenerational, volunteering, seniors programming, successful aging
An increasing number of elderly people are remaining at home long into their senior years. This is a highly vulnerable population, at risk of loneliness, isolation, depression and associated adverse health outcomes. Intergenerational social programs are intended to enable social contact, promote active participation and sharing, as well as provide a sense of meaning for seniors. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine social and health outcomes of long-term senior participants at the intergenerational organization, LINKages. Twenty-one participants completed the UCLA Loneliness Scale, Engagement in Meaningful Activities Scale, MOS Social Support Survey, the Short Form Health Survey and participated in a semi-structured interview. Results indicate that intergenerational programs do target lonely seniors, who have an average sense of engagement in meaningful activities compared with standardized norms. A stronger bond with a younger volunteer was associated an increased sense of social support. Finally, decreased loneliness, engagement in meaningful activities and sense of social support were all related to increased vitality. The study findings indicate that intergenerational programming is successful in targeting lonely older adults and that improvements in the social outcomes, such as loneliness, support and sense of meaning are associated with better health.
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