Older Americans Month:  Powered by Connection 

By Kathryn Stambaugh, Geriatric Services Director 

This year’s theme for Older Americans Month, Powered by Connection, recognizes the vital role of meaningful relationships and social connections in supporting health for all ages, and especially for seniors, by encouraging activity, elevating mood, and combatting isolation and loneliness.   

Lack of social connection can harm our health in ways one might not expect: A report in 2023 by the U.S. Surgeon General found that loneliness increases the risk of premature death by nearly 30%, and people with poor social relationships have a greater risk of stroke and heart disease. 

At LifeLong, we offer an array of activities where older patients can build connections, including support groups and classes like Tai Chi. Programs such as Care at Home and Street Medicine combat isolation by meeting people where they are when obstacles prevent in-clinic care. In our health centers, all staff can help brighten a patient’s day, knowing that in some cases, the trip to the clinic may be a patient’s only opportunity for social interaction that day. This winter, MSW intern Devyn Kelley interviewed older patients at East Oakland and Over 60 health centers. When asked about what older people need, one patient highlighted “isolation and loneliness that most elderly people deal with” and asked for “more safe places where they can open up and talk about their feelings.” Other patients reinforced how much their interactions with LifeLong staff mean to them:  

“[The clinic] has been like a family. I knew all the doctors and the staff, and it was a healthy place to come.  I really believe that the staff care.” 

“Everyone here has been so nice, and everyone is concerned about their patients’ health.  That is important and I appreciate the kindness.” 

”I like everything about LifeLong … the people act like they are concerned about you, that’s for sure.” 

“I like it because it’s homey … it’s down to earth and the people are nice. They look at you and answer every question that you ask.” 

As Older Americans Month draws to a close, many thanks to all LifeLong staff for the warmth, kindness, and respect you bring to your care of LifeLong’s older patients every day! 

Darlene Brown and Patient

Resources for older adults feeling isolated or looking for connection: 

  • Friendship Line California:  1-888-670-1360 (free crisis intervention hotline and warmline for non-emergency emotional support calls) 
  • Well Connected: 1-877-797-7299 (free nationwide phone and online community offering educational, fun and engaging groups joined from home; automated call-in available) 
  • Well Connected Español:  1-877-797-7299 (press 2 for Spanish) 

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