Seniors and Veterans Enrichment
Social isolation and loneliness among seniors and veterans is recognized as a serious public health risk. The Department of Veterans Affairs has identified that more than one in five veterans live alone, putting them at risk of the associated physical and mental side effects. The Seniors and Veterans Enrichment (SAVE) program provides friendly companionship and visiting services to seniors and veterans throughout the greater New Hanover County area in North Carolina.
Loneliness can take its toll on an individual’s body and their mind. Social isolation has been connected to physical health challenges, including increased risk of high blood pressure, cognitive decline, depression and mortality. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) 2020 report on “Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Opportunities for the Health Care System” found that:
- Social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes (a risk that may rival smoking, obesity and physical inactivity).
- Social isolation was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia.
- Poor social relationships were associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
- Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.
Easterseals UCP is training volunteers to help combat loneliness among seniors and veterans. With funding from CVS Health, we are creating a frontline of volunteers to spend quality time and companionship with seniors and veterans living at home, in assisted living and nursing homes.
Giving back to seniors and veterans through enriching activities
To reduce social isolation, enhance healthy lifestyles and enrich the lives of program participants, our volunteers will become companions to seniors and veterans by:
- Becoming a “phone buddy”
- Delivering lunch, dinner or an ice cream
- Driving participants to appointments, shopping or religious services
- Gardening together and other outdoor activities
- Frequently visiting participants in their home
- Taking participants on community outings
- Teaching computer and other technical skills
Here’s what our team members are saying…
“I believe that everyone has something to give. Volunteerism connects those who have the time and passion to help others. That connection can improve the mental and physical health for everyone.”
Be a part of our story.