Posted on April 18, 2023
Ontario OH – It’s been over three years since the U.S. went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The complexity of its impact on our society was exacerbated by the isolation felt amongst communities and individuals. Among those most impacted are the at-risk individuals, such as older adults.
“Social isolation is a public health concern because it has been shown to increase health problems. Isolation can affect you both emotionally and physically. Social isolation can increase the risk of dementia, heart disease, and stroke. For older adults, social isolation has similar health impacts as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.” 1
The Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc. addressed the critical need to support socialization amongst older adults by partnering with local businesses and organizations.
A grant opportunity was made available for Richland County organizations and businesses who could demonstrate a way to support Richland County seniors (age 60 and older) with effective methods for combatting social isolation post-pandemic. Applicants were required to exhibit a clear and innovative plan to interact and engage with at-risk seniors in a group setting.
Willa, Social Isolation program participant, says, “You get to meet new friends and people that you talk with, and it just brightens your day, gives you something to look forward to. The best part of it is coming together as a community and meeting new people, and learning what services are available in our community, and to find out what all is funded by the Richland County Senior Services Levy.”
Excited by the success and outcomes of these programs in 2022, the Area Agency on Aging allocated $129,000 in Richland County Senior Services Levy funds to be granted in 2023. The 2023 submitted grant applications were evaluated by the number of people served, innovation, sustainability, and the ability to be compliant with funding and program expectations. Not only did the social isolation grant awards support the local economy by awarding funds in Richland County, but it also created a local, meaningful, and sustainable connection amongst seniors. The Area Agency on Aging anticipates that over 1,600 older adults in Richland County will benefit from these programs.
“We were fortunate enough to acquire grant funds through the Richland County Senior Services Levy, and we’re super happy to be able to work with the seniors in our community. What we’ve been able to do is work with their wellness and teach them about how balance and coordination is important as we age. Here at Black Belt Pro Fitness, we do more than just Martial Arts, so we were happy to flex that and get out with the community and work with seniors, and we hope to continue with that relationship with the Area Agency on Aging and with our seniors in the community.”, Chris Herberger, President/CEO of Black Belt Pro Fitness.
2023 Grant recipients include:
The Area Agency on Aging looks forward to celebrating Older Americans Month in May with the national theme “Aging Unbound.” It aligns with the goal of socialization and explores diverse aging experiences, and when older adults are engaged and independent, the entire community benefits and prospers.
Collaborating with local businesses and organizations is a critical piece in accomplishing the goal of reducing the negative impacts of social isolation. The innovative programs from local organizations fulfill the diverse interests of older adults. They can leverage their creativity by participating in unique and fulfilling activities with other older adults, thus enhancing their health and well-being.
For more information on the organizations’ social isolation programs, please https://www.aaa5ohio.org/events/social-isolation-grant-awardees/ for a complete list of grant recipients.
The Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc., located at Hawkins Corner in Ontario, serves the North Central Ohio area, including Ashland, Crawford, Huron, Knox, Marion, Morrow, Richland, Seneca, and Wyandot Counties, providing assistance to aging individuals and disabled individuals. Contact the Area Agency on Aging at (419) 524-4144 or (800) 560-5799. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/aaa5ohio and our website at www.aaa5ohio.org.