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 Pilot Group

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 current pilot group began meeting on Feb. 8, 2022, and is full. To be added to a waiting list for potential future groups, please contact Teresa Tam ([email protected])

 

More events & activities at the Greenwood Senior Center


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].

Lonely No More! Virtual Roundtable Discussions

Loneliness is a complex emotion, an experience that can compel those who feel it to seek out connection wherever they can find it. In this historical moment, as people everywhere ride the waves of pandemic-fueled isolation and connection, loneliness has surged into public consciousness.

Lonely No More! is The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for 21st Century Studies’ (C21) attempt to contribute to this critically pressing issue. Over the course of the Spring 2022 semester, C21 will be offering a variety of programming and content centered on loneliness.

The Greenwood Senior Center’s SCP Coordinator has worked with C21 to bring you the following virtual events, which focus on the many aspects of studying and reimagining loneliness and connection:

Lonely Infrastructure
Online- Watch anytime!

The first conversational roundtable for the Center for 21st Century Studies (C21) Lonely No More! Rolling Symposium. In “Lonely Infrastructure” we seek to answer the following: What are the physical and social infrastructures that are contributing to “lonely societies” or that can be mobilized to support the increasing number of people living alone? C21 Director Anne Basting moderates a discussion between experts and community leaders about the definitions of loneliness, programs that unmake it, and the significance of libraries as intermediaries in building community connection.

Participants: Eric Klinenberg (Helen Gould Shephard Professor in the Social Sciences and Director of The Institute for Public Knowledge, NYU); Chikako Ozawa-de Silva (Assoc Professor of Anthropology, Emory University); Joan Johnson (Director of the Milwaukee Public Library System); Jason Danely (Reader in Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University).

Watch the roundtable here

Weaponizing Loneliness
Online – Watch anytime!

How is loneliness weaponized in practices of solitary confinement and incarceration? What do efforts toward its banning tell us about the rhetoric of loneliness as points of concern and control? How have individuals and communities resisted infrastructures of isolation linked to the carceral state?

Featuring Stephanie Gibson (PhD Candidate in Art History at the University of Pennsylvania), Vijay Gupta Violinist (ED of Street Symphony, MacArthur Fellow), Keramet Reiter (Assoc. Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the School of Law at UC Irvine), Sarah Shourd (Playwright, activist and trauma-informed journalist).

 

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


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 video recording made at the end of the session will be edited and displayed as a performance art piece for C21’s 2022-2023 Lonely No More! Exhibition and featured here once finalized.


Additional resources

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

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