BOISE — It's especially important for people 65 years or older to self isolate because they are at high risk for COVID-19. But, with this also comes a new challenge, social isolation.
"Our residents miss all of their friends, and being able to gather around with them," said Aaron Kidder, resident services director at Touchmark's retirement community. "It's hard they can't go out on outings, eat in the dining room, or do any of the special activities we offer here."
The elderly population is most susceptible to social isolation, with many of them living alone without the technology to be able to connect with friends and family.
"They are really by themselves, a lot of them don't have contact with the outside world if you will," said AARP Idaho State Director, Lupe Wissel. "There are folks that don't have family around, anyone to check on them or the access to technology, so that's who is most at risk for social isolation."
That is why AARP launched Community Connections. It's a platform they are using during this crisis to help combat the elderly from feeling isolated from the rest of the community.
"I'm hoping that it creates more of a sense of community, more of a sense of people helping people," said Wissel. "And a place where people can go just for their friends and neighbors to help make sure there is someone there to help them."
Trained AARP professionals are calling seniors that signed up for the free connection program to check in on them. But, they are also asking anyone in the community who wants to help the elderly population to sign up for the training online.
"A simple phone call means so much to our residents," said Kidder. "Even when we call them to let them know their groceries have arrived or that their mail has arrived, they get so excited. It's important for them."
This program's primary goal is to keep seniors engaged in the community and to make sure they know they are not alone.
"Us as humans we're social creatures and so it is important for us to always have social interactions, and although it isn't necessarily safe right now to have physical interactions with people right now, having social interactions and sharing those experiences with other keep us happy and we live longer," said Kidder.
For more information on the program or to become a caller visit, aarpcommunityconnections.org.