Social Isolation: The Silent Killer that Costs Medicare Billions in Extra Spending

Last week the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) sponsored a Solutions Forum on Capitol Hill (view recording HERE)  that put the spotlight on groundbreaking research showing how much social isolation—lack of meaningful contacts with others—costs the Medicare program. In two separate panels, participants in the packed room heard from experts who discussed the global problem of social isolation—or lack of meaningful contacts with others—among older adults. Susan Reinhard, Senior Vice President at AARP kicked off the event with a compelling …

Older Adults Who Don’t Have Meaningful Relationships are Sicker—and Cost Medicare More

Elizabeth “Izzy” Barnett, 80, is a full-time caregiver for her husband, Bob, who has dementia. They have no children or family to help and Izzy has lost contact with friends because she is busy taking care of Bob. Izzy’s is not alone in this situation. Millions of older adults are socially isolated—in other words, they lack meaningful relationships with family and friends. Life circumstances—losing a spouse, friends, and loved ones, or retirement—put older adults at increased risk for isolation.   …

Virginia County Explores How Technology Can Help Aging Population

It’s clear that a majority of people want to remain independent as they age, and now technology can help them do so. As a Northern Virginia resident and an employee of AARP, I was drawn to a recent local event titled “Can Technology Help Older Arlingtonians Age Independently?” The event was the fourth installment of Arlington County’s Digital Destiny campaign, which seeks to explore the impact of the Digital Revolution on defined aspects of life for the county and its …

Good Friends Make for Better Health

I got an email from someone I didn’t know this week, saying how comforting she had found my book, especially the chapter about friendship. ‘‘My ‘friends’ all know that I am deaf,” she wrote. “Some try to look at me more (that doesn’t last too long), some try to talk slower (that doesn’t last long). I am amazed at how impatient they get with me. I am amazed how inconsiderate they are. “I was at a lovely luncheon yesterday in a restaurant …

Singing to Destigmatize Alzheimer’s

Having college students and older adults with Alzheimer’s sing together can change younger choir members’ perceptions of dementia and reduce social isolation in those with the disease and their family caregivers. These are the findings of a pilot study conducted last spring at the John Carroll University in Ohio. (The study will be published this April in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias.) The dementia study is part of a worldwide effort to try to normalize the …