Older Americans who describe themselves as lonely have a 45 percent greater risk of dying and a 60 percent greater risk of experiencing a decrease in their ability to perform common activities of daily living such as walking, stair climbing, lifting and carrying, as measured over a period of six years.1 This hazard is magnified by the projected doubling of the over-65 population in the United States in the next 15 years. And it highlights the need to improve the quality of life of older Americans—both as a means of promoting healthy aging and constraining health care spending.
The community-based social support program linkAges is designed to help older adults continue to live independently and remain engaged in their communities. By leveraging technology and social interactions across generations, the program aims to combat loneliness and isolation and mitigate their adverse health effects. The program's four related components can be implemented separately or combined: TimeBank: A community-based network that allows members to exchange needed services, like cooking or driving, or engage in shared interests; List: A collection of senior-friendly services and resources informed by community-generated reviews; Personal Profile: Information about seniors' day-to-day lives, interests, needs, and goals that they would like their doctors to know about; Connect: Passive in-home monitoring of utility usage to detect changes in seniors' physical and social health status.