Reaching Out from a Distance: Mitigating the effects of social isolation on older adults during COVID-19

Tyagi, Purnima | $74,255

Ontario Centennial College 2020 NSERC College COVID-19 Grant

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.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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