Gloria Wert lives by herself in a subsidized
senior apartment. Her mind is sharp, but she has some physical limitations that make it challenging to get out a lot. Her two surviving children live out of state, but fortunately, she has grandchildren and neighbors who look in on her. She has an adult home health worker who visits regularly and she attends an adult day center weekly. And two siblings live in the area.
"We watch out for each other," Gloria says of her siblings. Her sons call her regularly, and her grandchildren "live close and take care of me." Neighbors check on each other regularly.
Gloria Wert is fortunate. Social isolation is a serious issue in the United States, with an estimated 1 in 5 adults age 50 or older affected by isolation. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) has made increasing awareness of social isolation the focus of its "Home for the Holidays" campaign. Senior Resources is embracing the campaign helping spread awareness of the growing issue.
Gloria says she rarely goes more than a day without seeing someone. But she knows others who don't have that same support system.
"Some of the ones that come to Daybreak (the adult day center) have no family," she says. "That's sad."
About 29% of people 65 or older live alone, and twice as many women live alone as men. Prolonged isolation can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to an AARP Foundation study.
Gloria's days at Daybreak have made a difference for her, says Henriet Meyers, Gloria's nurse and supports coordinator for the Targeted Care Management program at Senior Resources. "She did well before, but she has blossomed. Some of my clients have no contact other than my monthly visit. Human contact is what we all need."
Gloria enjoys field trips at Daybreak; some of her favorite activities include trips to the art museum, arts and crafts, blueberry and apple picking and baking.
But what she enjoys most is the human contact. "I feel just like we're family," Gloria says. While she has mobility issues, others at Daybreak have other limitations, and they work together. "I can help them in ways they can't do, and they help me in ways I can't do. It really brightens my day.
"I really appreciate everything Senior Resources has done for me."