Greenwood Senior Center: Social Connection Project


What is the Social Connection Project?

The Social Connection Project (SCP) aims to increase social connection among older adults, spurred by statistics on the negative health impacts of social isolation. The lack of social connection has been shown to increase health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.1 More than one in four adults aged 50+ reported that they felt isolated before the COVID-19 pandemic began. In 2020, that number jumped to more than one in two.2

The goal of the Social Connection Project is to identify, develop, and connect people to programs and events that foster social connection, both at the Greenwood Senior Center and in the community.

The project is funded by the King County Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy.


Get Involved!


Social Connection Project programs & events


Social Connection Consultations

Are you interested in increasing your level of social connection with others in your community but aren’t sure how? Do you have a friend or relative who could benefit from increased social connection? Contact Teresa Tam, SCP Coordinator, ([email protected], 206.531.0061) for a free consultation.

Backup Plan for Solo Agers Group (Online)

A growing portion of the 50+ population is composed of “solos.” These are individuals who cannot or choose not to rely on family to help them navigate life events and make health decisions. The group helps solos plan for and manage health and well-being decisions and events—both large and small—during the second half of life. Participants work with each other to create a personal ‘backup plan’ to make sure they have help and support when they need it. The Backup Plan concept was designed by Linda Camp, an independent consultant and researcher.

The group that started in September 2022 is full. To be added to a wait list for future groups, please contact Teresa Tam at [email protected] or 206.531.0061.

Share the Care Kickoff Meetings

Do you or a loved one need meals delivered? A ride to treatment? House cleaning? Companionship? If so, a Share the Care group may be a good option. Share the Care kickoff meetings help provide a roadmap on how to form a team to meet your caregiving needs. A trained Greenwood Senior Center facilitator will help you organize this team at no charge.

A Share the Care group can be helpful if:

  • You or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with a serious illness.
  • You’ve been taking care of someone who is ill for a long time. You’re burnt out and you can’t do it alone anymore.

A Share the Care kickoff meeting will help you:

  • Create a unique care team from friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers, turning your group into a powerful caregiving team.
  • Organize the team in a way that ensures every job will get done, and no one person will have too much to do.
  • Receive the help you need without coordinating or asking.
  • Discover the hidden talents within the group, make the most of their resources, cope with group issues, and stay together in the face of adversity.
  • Make caregiving a meaningful, loving experience that replaces stress, fear and loneliness with teamwork, courage and friendship.

For more information about a Share the Care kickoff meeting, contact Teresa Tam at [email protected] or 206-531-0061.

Tech Support Group

Technology can help maintain and enhance social connections with peers, family, friends, and caregivers. But what if technology scares or frustrates you? The new Greenwood Senior Center (GSC) Tech Support Group is here to help! The group will meet the third Tuesday of each month from 1-2:30 pm in person at the GSC, beginning in January 2023.

The first hour will cover a tech topic, followed by a half hour to get additional support from your peers and facilitators. If more assistance on the topic is needed, participants can make a follow-up 1×1 tech mentoring appointment.

Tues, Jan. 17, 2023: Savvy Web Searches
How to efficiently conduct web searches to find accurate information and find solutions to problems.

Tues, Feb. 21, 2023: A Shared Photo is Worth 2,000 Words
How to share and save photos from email, text, and other messaging apps.

Please RSVP for the tech support group by contacting Teresa Tam, Social Connection Project Coordinator, at [email protected] or 206-531-0061.

Connect2Affect Community Workshop

Are you recently retired and feel you’ve lost vital social connections? Perhaps you’ve had a recent life transition and have lost friends? Or perhaps you want to help older adult peers in your community think about how to build and maintain strong support networks and meaningful relationships? If so, this community workshop is for you!

Created by the AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect program, this workshop will help you craft your own ‘Friendventory’ to take stock of your social contacts and think about ways to improve your connections. Additionally, if interested, you are invited to become a facilitator of these workshops in your community, and will have a chance to discuss the possibilities with the Social Connection Project Coordinator after the workshop. There are two free workshop options:

Tues, Jan. 10, 2023, 11 am-12 pm, Online via Zoom

Thurs, Jan. 19, 2023, 10-11 am, In-person at GSC

Please RSVP for one of the two free workshops by contacting Teresa Tam, Social Connection Project Coordinator, at [email protected] or 206-531-0061.


Programs & events in the community


Do More, Feel Better Study

Feeling Low? Help UW researchers learn how to help older adults. The Greenwood Senior Center is partnering with the University of Washington to find better ways to help seniors experiencing depression. We’re seeking participants for a 9-week program based on research showing that increasing participation in pleasurable and rewarding activities can decrease depressive symptoms. Eligible participants will receive $130 over the course of the program. Due to COVID, the study can be conducted in-person or online. For more information, call 206.616.2129 or email [email protected].

Connect + Conversations—Foundation for Social Connection

How can researchers, innovators, community leaders, and individuals commit to a more meaningfully connected society?

Over the past year the Foundation for Social Connection held eight interactive conversations, which in total convened 26 experts and over 2,5000 community members from 55 countries to discuss the widespread, urgent public health issue of social isolation and loneliness.

Their newly published report—entitled Creating the Conditions for Social Well-Being—highlights key insights from the Connect+Conversations series. Find it here, along with all of the recordings from eight interactive conversations:

https://www.social-connection.org/connectconversations-1

 

Past Social Connection Project programs and events


Speed Friending
Sat, Sept. 17, 2022
Greenwood Senior Center

Speed Friending is a fun and fast-paced way to meet new people that dissolves awkward social barriers. The event filled up. To be added to a waiting list for future Speed Friending events, contact Teresa Tam at [email protected] or 206.531.0061.

The UnLonely Film Festival
Tue, Oct. 18, 2022
Greenwood Senior Center

The annual UnLonely Film Festival celebrates the power of storytelling in film. It’s a curated series of award-winning short films that give voice to the loneliness epidemic and represents the many lived experiences with isolation.

University of Washington Social Connection Survey

In partnership with a University of Washington Master of Public Health in Community-Oriented Public Health Practice class, this survey aimed to help understand older adults’ level of social connection views on connecting with others through Greenwood Senior Center programs.  See the report. Here’s a video about the survey!

Social Connection Project Conversations

Between October 2021 and January 2022, the SCP Coordinator held conversations with older adults in the community for their input on how to increase social connection among their peers. Participants shared their experiences with social connection challenges and successes, as well as their anecdotes and ideas about the role of senior centers and virtual villages in increasing social connection. These conversations have informed Greenwood Senior Center outreach and programming. For example, the center is starting a refer a friend campaign and focusing on providing more intergenerational programming.

Lonely No More! Story Workshop with the Center for 21st Century Studies

The Greenwood Senior Center partnered with the Center for 21st Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in a storytelling workshop to reflect on C21’s Lonely No More! Program and the results of their survey on loneliness. The workshop involved C21 faculty in conversation with Social Connection Project participants about how we might illustrate and tell stories about loneliness to connect with others. C21 Director Anne Basting’s “beautiful questions” formula inspired the original Lonely No More! survey. The audio recording made at the end of the session has been included as a performance art piece for C21’s 2022-2023 Lonely No More! Exhibition and can be heard here:

www.c21uwm.com/lonely-no-more-book-club/greenwood-senior-center-participants/ 


Additional resources

National Institute on Aging: Loneliness and Social Isolation — Tips for Staying Connected

Commit to Connect

engAGED: The National Resource Center for Engaging Older Adults

Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness

AARP Foundation Connect2Affect

Dealing with Loneliness after 50 – The Sixty and Me 2020 Survey Results


Contact us

For more information about the Social Connection Project or to discuss possibilities for collaboration, please contact Teresa Tam, Social Connection Project Coordinator, at [email protected] or 206.531.0061

smiling woman with dark hair and glasses
Social Connection Project Coordinator Teresa Tam began volunteering with the PNA Village in 2016 and is excited to continue working with the PNA doing community outreach and program development to increase social connection among older adults in our community. She has over a decade of experience in healthcare program evaluation and is passionate about supporting the mental, physical, and emotional health of others as they age. Outside of work, Teresa enjoys spending time with family, friends, and felines; traveling; and hunting for rocks (mostly agates).

References

1 https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation
2 https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/162549/0212_NPHA-loneliness-report-FINAL-09112020-handle.pdf