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1.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335185

ABSTRACT

Objectives Evidence-based strategies to reduce loneliness in later life are needed because loneliness impacts all domains of health, functioning, and quality of life. Volunteering is a promising strategy, as a large literature of observational studies documents associations between volunteering and better health and well-being. However, relatively few studies have used randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to examine benefits of volunteering, and none have examined loneliness. The primary objective of the Helping Older People Engage (HOPE) study is to examine the social-emotional benefits of a social volunteering program for lonely older adults. This manuscript describes the rationale and design of the trial. Design Randomized controlled trial examining an existing community volunteering program available nationwide. We are randomly assigning adults aged 60 or older (up to 300) who report loneliness to 12 months of either AmeriCorps Seniors volunteering program or an active control (self-guided life review). Co-primary outcomes are assessed via self-report—loneliness (UCLA Loneliness Scale) and quality of life (WHOQOL-Bref). This trial is registered at clinicaltrials.gov ( NCT03343483 ) Setting Lifespan of Greater Rochester, a non-medical, community-based aging services agency (volunteering) and participants’ homes (control). Participants Adult ages ≥60 years who endorsed feelings of loneliness (score of 6 or greater on the 3-item UCLA Loneliness Scale). Intervention The interventions are 12-months of volunteer service with the AmeriCorps Seniors program or self-guided life review writing (active control). Measurements Data were collected at baseline, 3-, 6-, and 12-months (loneliness) and baseline and 12-months (quality of life). Timeline Enrollment for this trial is underway and expected to finish by May 2022, with completion of follow-up assessments through April, 2023, and completion of primary outcomes soon thereafter.

2.
The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry ; 30(4, Supplement):S6, 2022.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-1739866

ABSTRACT

Social isolation and loneliness have health consequences that rival those of smoking and obesity. Older adults are at particularly high risk for the negative consequences of loneliness and social disconnection due to compounding effects of age-related declines in functioning, cognition, and sensory function. Up to 29% of adults age 60 and older experience loneliness. The Covid-19 pandemic led to increased social isolation and depression among older adults, as a result of prolonged quarantine and the heightened risk of severe illness and death. While the negative consequences of loneliness and social isolation are clear, strategies to intervene and the underlying mechanisms of interventions are poorly understood, thus hindering prevention and intervention efforts. In this session, Nili Solomonov, Ph.D. will present preliminary findings from a novel neuroimaging-based social reward paradigm she developed examine the relationship between processing of social rewards and depression severity. Ellen Lee, M.D. will present work on the role of compassion and self-compassion in loneliness and development of a positive affect-driven intervention for underserved community-dwelling older adults. Kimberly Van Orden, Ph.D. will present results from a randomized trial of a social volunteering program for lonely older adults;specifically, predictors of engagement in the program (versus discontinuing the program). Bret Rutherford, M.D. will moderate and lead a discussion of mechanisms and treatment targets to reduce social isolation in the aging population. All presenters will put their research in the context of COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.

4.
Clin Gerontol ; 45(1): 189-194, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1341053

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: We describe two robotic pet demonstration projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Key project components are stakeholders (settings), inputs (activities), and outputs (interest in programs and participant benefit). RESULTS: Stakeholders are an aging services organization in western NY (Lifespan) which served community-dwelling older adults, and a Veteran's Dementia Care Neighborhood (nursing home) that served 14 older Veterans. Project activities: both sites used commercially available robotic pets, with setting-specific deployment procedures. Outputs: 289 pets were distributed by Lifespan; nine Veterans selected pets and four engaged more actively. Community-dwelling older adults reported high satisfaction; satisfaction with the program in Veterans is evidenced by ongoing engagement via staff observation. CONCLUSIONS: Procedures used by our programs may be useful for agencies and care programs interested in implementing robotic pet programs for community-dwelling older adults and those residing in long-term care. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Robotic pets were sought by individuals and care providers in community and long-term care settings to provide companionship for older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic and may be of benefit to older adults.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Robotic Surgical Procedures , Aged , Humans , Independent Living , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
5.
J Am Med Dir Assoc ; 22(10): 1989-1997, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1330933

ABSTRACT

Social functioning is defined as how a person operates in their unique social environment (ie, engagement in activities, connectedness with others, and contributions to social roles). Healthy social functioning is important for nursing home residents as they are at increased risk for loneliness and isolation. Social functioning has long been an underacknowledged aspect of nursing home residents' health, but now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, residents' risk for decreased social functioning is increased. Several reliable and well-validated tools are available to supplement routine care planning and delivery and track and improve changes in social functioning over time. The overarching aim of this article is to provide resources and recommendations for interdisciplinary team assessment related to social functioning for nursing home residents. We describe 2 domains of social functioning measures, care-planning measures and outcome measures, and provide recommendations for how to integrate said measures into practice. Healthy social functioning is needed to maintain nursing home residents' well-being and quality of life. Measures and recommendations outlined in this article can be used by nursing home staff to understand residents' social preferences and address social functioning during COVID-19 and beyond.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Quality of Life , Humans , Nursing Homes , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Interaction
7.
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry ; 29(8): 816-827, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-291507

ABSTRACT

Older age and medical comorbidity are factors associated with more severe illness and risk of death due to COVID-19 infection. Social distancing is an important public health strategy for controlling the spread of the virus and minimizing its impact on the older adult population. It comes at a cost, however. Loneliness is associated with myriad adverse health outcomes, one of which is impaired immune functioning, which adds even greater risk for coronavirus infection, complications and death. Older adults, therefore, are at compound risk, making effective management of loneliness and social isolation in our older patients a high priority target for preventive intervention. In this paper, the authors describe a cognitive-behavioral framework for social connectedness, including evidence-informed strategies clinicians can use to help patients develop a "Connections Plan" to stay connected and promote their social, mental, and physical health during "social distancing" restrictions. This set of strategies can be provided during brief (30 minute) telephone sessions and is analogous to creating a "Safety Plan" for suicide risk. The approach is illustrated with three case examples.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/psychology , Loneliness/psychology , Social Isolation/psychology , Aged , Anxiety/etiology , Anxiety/therapy , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/methods , Depression/etiology , Depression/therapy , Female , Humans , Male , Physical Distancing , Psychotherapy , SARS-CoV-2
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