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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. In 2023, one in three adults aged 50–80 (34%) reported feeling isolated from others in the past year. This represents a marked decline compared with the 56% who felt isolated in 2020, but a greater proportion than the 27% who reported feeling isolated in 2018.

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 (GSC) and in the community.

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

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, for a free consultation.

gro.r1708639856etnec1708639856yenni1708639856hp@ta1708639856seret1708639856

206.531.0061

Programs

Backup Plan for Solo Aging 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.

To be added to a waitlist for future groups, please contact Teresa Tam at gro.r1708639856etnec1708639856yenni1708639856hp@ta1708639856seret1708639856 or 206.531.0061.

Forest Therapy Guided Walks

Forest Therapy is immersion into nature that invites you to connect with the environment through all five senses. Benefits include a reduction in stress levels and blood pressure and an increase in calm and connection.

 –Self-guided Forest Therapy Walk. Tuesday, April 23rd, 1-3 pm. Woodland Park. Free. Contact Teresa Tam, gro.r1708639856etnec1708639856yenni1708639856hp@ta1708639856seret1708639856 to register and receive detailed event location instructions.

Social Connections as We Age

Monday, March 25th, 11 am to noon. GSC. Free.

Join Denise Malm, Social Worker and Geriatric Mental Health specialist, as she dives into the world of finding friends and community as we get older. Personal Safety Nets and “social capital” play an impactful role in the growing issue of loneliness and isolation. Discover creative ways to build meaningful relationships and enhance connections to boost health and well-being. Register by contacting the GSC after March 1st at 206-297-0875.

The UnLonely Film Festival

The annual UnLonely Film Festival, sponsored by the Foundation for Art & Healing, 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. The GSC periodically hosts viewing of some of the films, followed by discussion. Stay tuned for upcoming dates.

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 GSC Tech Support Group is here to help! The group meets the third Tuesday of each month from 1-2:30 pm in person at the GSC unless otherwise specified. Bring your tech questions and your device(s) (e.g., iPhone, iPad, laptop) and we’ll research solutions together online, followed by breakout groups to implement those solutions.

Please register for each session separately by contacting the GSC at 206-297-0875.

Speed Friending

Interested in meeting others in your community and making new friends? Speed Friending is a fun and fast paced way to meet new people in a way that dissolves awkward social barriers.

 —Monday, April 29th, 1-3 pm. Wallingford Senior Center. Free. Register with the Wallingford Senior Center at 206-461-7825.

 

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. To be added to a list for future workshops or to bring this workshop to your organization, contact Teresa Tam at gro.r1708639856etnec1708639856yenni1708639856hp@ta1708639856seret1708639856 or 206-531-0061.

Social Skills Discussion Series

“You think your social life could be better. Maybe you’ve felt shy as long as you can remember. Your conversations have more awkward moments than you’d like. You want to make changes, but you don’t know where to start.” If this resonates with you, come join us for a 3-part series on improving your social skills lead by GSC staff Teresa Tam, Social Connection Project Coordinator, and Lisa Bakke, Therapeutic Consultant. The series will be loosely based on “The Social Skills Guidebook: Manage Shyness, Improve Your Conversations, and Make Friends, Without Giving Up Who You Are” by Chris MacLeod, MSW. You are welcome to attend all or select sessions. Please register with Teresa Tam at gro.r1708639856etnec1708639856yenni1708639856hp@ta1708639856seret1708639856 or 206-531-0061.

GSC. Free.

Wed, March 27th, 10:30 am to noon: Tackling the Main Mental Barriers to Socializing
Wed, April 24th, 10:30 am to noon: Developing Your Conversation Skills
Wed, May 22nd, 10:30 am to noon: Forming and Growing Friendships

 

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 GSC 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 gro.r1708639856etnec1708639856yenni1708639856hp@ta1708639856seret1708639856 or 206-531-0061.

Programs and Events in the Community

Do More, Feel Better Study

Feeling Low? Help UW researchers learn how to help older adults. The GSC 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 ude.w1708639856u@bfm1708639856d1708639856.

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:

Past Projects and Events

UW Social Connection Survey and Video

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 GSC programs. 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 GSC 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 GSC 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:

Resources

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

Positive Aging Community

In the Press

The Social Connection Project: combating social isolation among seniors

DCHS Blog

Greenwood Senior Center Offers Programs to Increase Social Connection

ADS Seattle and King County

Greenwood Senior Center Project Offers New Programs that Increase Social Connection

Northwest Prime Time

More Senior Programs

Contact Information

For more information about the Social Connection Project or to discuss possibilities for collaboration, please contact Teresa Tam, Social Connection Project Coordinator.

About Teresa Tam

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; paddle boarding; and rock hunting.

gro.r1708639856etnec1708639856yenni1708639856hp@ta1708639856seret1708639856
206.531.0061

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