Episode 4: Seniors and Loneliness
Some 12 million Americans over the age of 60 live alone. This doesn't mean they're all lonely, but loneliness is a massive issue for older adults, especially among those 80 and over. So, hosts Jeremy Warshaw and Judy D'Mello dig deep into one possible cause of this problem -- an issue that looms large in our society today: ageism.
Ageism, in terms of popular culture and attitudes, is rife in the West. Truthfully, it's a cultural scandal that often leads to seniors being marginalized and isolated, which, in turn, leads to loneliness. But thanks to the efforts of this episode's first guest, Katie Wade, who works for Covia, an organization that's dedicated to improving life for older adults, there are available programs for seniors to find connections and companionship. She believes strongly, and it’s backed up by research, that seniors need and benefit from being treated as active participants in close relationships. That in fact their brains are fully capable of creativity and conceptual thinking, and they are not just looking for caregiving support.
Additionally, we hear from two older women, who experience loneliness in different ways, about the value and impact these programs have on their lives. Meanwhile, Dr. Louise Hawkley, this week's final guest, who is a research scientist at the University of Chicago and a founding member of the International Loneliness and Isolation Research Network, offers unparalleled insight into loneliness and ageism, as well as resources that can help.
Katie Wade, MEd, LPC, is passionate about ensuring we all have access to creative means of connecting with ourselves and others as we grow older. A constant thread in her work, since her very first internship, is our great need for meaningful social connection. After working as a mental health therapist with older adults in an inpatient setting, Katie maintained a private practice while providing social connection programming and other services to older adults and caregivers, and now nurtures and grows innovative creative aging programs. She is the director of Social Call, a social connection program for older adults.
Dr. Louise Hawkley is a research scientist at the National Opinion Research Center, affiliated with the University of Chicago. She is a co-investigator on the NIA-funded panel study, the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP), and the Principal Investigator of the NSHAP COVID supplemental study which began in September 2020. Her research contributions are predominantly in the area of perceived social isolation (loneliness) and health during aging. She is a founding member of the International Loneliness and Isolation Research Network (ILINK), and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness.