The San Diego Seniors Community Foundation will announce its No Seniors Alone Initiative fundraising campaign, which is intended to raise $1 million to support isolated older adults across San Diego County.
Community leaders -- including Bob Kelly, foundation president and CEO -- will host a virtual news conference at the Norman Park Senior Center in Chula Vista to discuss the challenges older adults face as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, as well as the pathways that will enable San Diego's older adult population to thrive and the region to continue to benefit from their contributions.
According to the foundation, the widespread impact of COVID-19 and associated social distancing measures have hit San Diego's older adults especially hard. This has resulted in what AARP calls a social isolation and a "loneliness epidemic." Increased social isolation for older people across San Diego County significantly threatens their overall health and wellbeing.
A UC San Diego study published earlier this year found that 85% of residents living in an independent senior housing community reported moderate to severe levels of loneliness. The COVID-19 pandemic, with its associated social distancing and lockdowns, have only made things worse, they said.
To help residents impacted by feelings of loneliness and isolation, San Diego in May expanded its AgeWell Social Calls Program to offer comfort to San Diegans of all ages, including those who only speak Spanish.
In addition to the disproportionate physical and mental effects of COVID-19 on older people, San Diego's service providers tasked with caring for this population lack adequate infrastructure and funding to deliver safe support services in the midst of a pandemic.
By 2030, one in four San Diegans will be 60 or older, but the region's high cost of living means that 23% of seniors do not have enough income to meet basic needs, Kelly said.
Speakers on Wednesday will include Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, Abigail Sahm of the Sahm Family Foundation, Aaron Ruiz, supervisor at Norman Park Senior Center and Shelley Lyford, CEO of West Health Institute.
The San Diego Seniors Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 2017. Its priority focus is to improve the lives of all seniors in San Diego County, so they are physically active, socially connected, and receive the care and necessities for a healthy, dynamic life.