Combatting the Social Isolation of Seniors Living Alone
As part of the Service Learning curriculum at Albany Medical College (AMC), medical students volunteer with a local organization, Community Caregivers, to make regular phone calls to socially isolated older adults. Community Caregivers aims to enable individuals of all ages to maintain their independence, dignity and quality of life within their homes and communities by providing non-medical support services to those in need. While AMC has a longstanding relationship with Community Caregivers, the partnership became even more important as the COVID-19 pandemic increased social isolation for most people, with an especially serious impact on the older adult population served by Community Caregivers. Medical students were matched with community-dwelling, socially isolated older adults for weekly assurance phone calls. Additionally, students write newsletter and newspaper articles as well as lead live virtual workshops and educational events. These calls and other support activities have become an important social outlet for both the students and the community members, and for some of the older adults receiving calls this may be their only social contact all week. Students build communication skills and develop relationships that help keep them focused on the reasons they chose to attend medical school.
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