Reaching Out from a Distance: Mitigating the effects of social isolation on older adults during COVID-19
Social isolation measures to control COVID‑19 present a serious public health concern to older adults as
prolonged isolation can affect cognitive, immune, cardiovascular and mental health. Social relationships with
family members, friends and peers, and a daily routine, all of which contribute to positive health outcomes in
older adults, have been interrupted by COVID‑19 and will be for the near to mid-future. One way of promoting
health is through community centre membership where program participation offers significant mental,
physical and social health benefits. However, utilization community in-person programs have been constrained,
due to social isolation protocols. Although many community organizations have moved their programming
online, there is a lack of understanding of older adults’ experiences during COVID-19, which includes if
utilizing online programming is accessible.
Centennial College will partner with the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, a leader in recreational,
educational, arts and cultural programs for community members. We will conduct a research project using
in-depth interviews and surveys to explore the experience of social isolation measures with older adults, their
needs, interests and resources. The results will be used to develop a toolkit of best practices on program
adaptation, including technology utilization, for community organizations to support older adults during
COVID‑19 and beyond.