Coffee and Conversation is generously supported through our Aging By Design grant which is funded by the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York
Social isolation and loneliness are serious problems for many older adults. We know that the Hearts and Hands services helps alleviate some of these problems for our care receivers, but we also know that more is needed. Funding from our Aging by Design grant is helping us begin the Coffee and Conversation program.
According to AARP, socially isolated people have higher risks for cardiovascular disease, infections, hypertension, and premature cognitive decline. Having social connections reduces the risk of early death by 50 percent. Social isolation is as bad for one's health as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Demographically, social isolation occurs more among men than women, but it occurs about equally among people who are living alone or living with someone, as well people who are single or married.
Gift cards to local coffee shops are available for volunteers who want to participate in this program. The volunteer will invite a care receiver for coffee (or tea) and conversation. This could be included as part of a scheduled ride to a doctor's appointment, grocery shopping trip or other errand. It could also be a standalone activity. This type of socializing is already happening on an informal basis among our volunteers and care receivers at the volunteer's expense. Establishing this as a formal program will allow Hearts and Hands to encourage and expand this among our volunteers and care receivers. Providing a gift card will decrease the out of pocket expenses for our volunteers.