AgeLab researcher Taylor Patskanick, LCSW, MPH spoke at the Friends on the Harbor 40th anniversary gala event organized by Little Brothers Boston, with the aim to raise awareness and support of programs to relieve social isolation and loneliness among older adults.
Patskanick spoke about the detrimental impact of social disengagement among older adults. Lacking social connections is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Meanwhile, global declines in birth rates, increasing life expectancy, smaller family sizes, greater geographic diversity, and declining trust are contributing to spikes in social isolation and loneliness among both younger and older adults.
She then highlighted the development of intergenerational programs as a way to combat social isolation and loneliness:
“Intergenerational programming fosters social connectedness and positive attitudes toward older adults and youth. It promotes lifelong, experiential learning, civic engagement, and volunteerism,” Patskanick said. “It bolsters support systems and trust while strengthening communities and building relationships. Intergenerational work even invests in the future aging services workforce.”
Taylor Patskanick is a lead organizer of AgeLab’s OMEGA program, including the OMEGA scholarship and the OMEGA Summit, which are designed to promote the efforts of young people to build and participate in intergenerational programs and connections in their communities. The 2019 OMEGA Summit for high school students will be held at the MIT AgeLab on October 19, 2019.