How You Can Help Fight Senior Loneliness

Forty-Five Opportunities to Help Fight Senior Loneliness as a Volunteer…and one you can get PAID for.

In a given week, how many people do you talk to? You text your sister every day. Joke with coworkers over lunch. Catch up with an old friend while strolling on West Cliff. Without realizing it, you probably engage with dozens of people every week.

For 20% of seniors over 75 in Santa Cruz County, that number looks a lot different. Most weeks, they speak to just one person. Most months, they are visited by one person.

This isolation leads to a kind of loneliness that increases mortality and rapidly decreases quality of life. And it’s even more acute for monolingual, LGBTQ+, and severely disabled elders.

The antidote is simple: human connection. That’s what inspired the MAH to build the exhibition We’re Still Here. We wanted to highlight this issue, tell important stories, and most importantly– share how anyone can help.

You are invited to experience what social isolation feels like in this powerful exhibition created by 186 seniors and advocates in our community.

Over the course of seven months, a community group of local seniors, advocates, and artists called C3 (the Creative Community Committee) poured their ideas, art, hopes, and stories together to create this inspiring exhibition. C3 created personal artwork about loneliness, brainstormed solutions to build connection, and offered their words of wisdom for future generations.

Alongside incredible artworks, you will explore 45 action cards designed by C3 to offer solutions to this growing problem. Drive a senior to the grocery store. Translate written materials into Spanish for a monolingual elder. Donate an iPod for entertainment. If you have a special skill, offer it. Take home the action card/s that inspire you the most and you can help C3 create impactful change for seniors experiencing social isolation.

An upcoming MAH event can help you support older adults for pay.

Get paid to Help Older Adults: The Event

On Wednesday, June 26, the Companion Café will offer you an enrollment workshop and then time to meet and get to know seniors who are eligible for your support. This program, called In-Home Supportive Services Program enables these elderly and disabled Santa Cruz residents a way to remain safely in their homes when they are not able to fully care for themselves or handle routine household tasks.

The Job

As an IHSS Companion, your assigned tasks are all agreed upon between you and the client before you begin. While enjoying conversations and companionship in the home of your client, the services you provide could include:

  •         Helping with household tasks (light cleaning, cooking, or grocery shopping)
  •         Accompanying them to medical appointments
  •         Personal care (bathing, grooming, and paramedical services)

What to Expect at the Event

  •         Free background checks (required for the job)
  •         Completing all the enrollment requirements at one location in one day (2-4pm)
  •         Meet and greet with seniors to find someone you want to work with (4-6pm)

For more information on these paid positions, see the MAH event listing here.

I hope to see you at the MAH. For more information click here or come on down to experience We’re Still Here between now and January 12, 2020.


Blog Post written by Jeff Caplan Community Dialogue Catalyst at the MAH. He is currently facilitating  “We’re Still Here,” an interactive art exhibition on ending Senior Isolation and Loneliness. Aside from his work with the MAH Jeff has taught bilingual conflict resolution and bird language in Santa Cruz County for the past 30 years.

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