No Senior Alone Foundation
Last updated 11/9/2020 at 12:38pm
The newly formed San Diego Seniors Community Foundation (SDSCF) with CEO and founder, Bob Kelly, hosted an event to announce a $500,000 donation from the Salm Family Foundation and a coalition of senior providers and advocates hoping to initially raise $1 million to fund and develop programs for seniors called, “No Senior Alone.”
The announcement was made on Oct. 21, via streaming on YouTube.
Kelly explained the plight of senior isolation, aggravated by the coronavirus, has reached epidemic levels, endangering not just the physical health and safety of San Diego County’s elder population but their mental health. Pointing out that the county is facing a crisis, with a population of 500,000 seniors, and 150,000 “elder orphans.”
“People over 60 are currently one in four of the county’s population,” he added, pointing out that seniors are already in danger of accessing resources, such as food, medical care, and interactions with others they need to be healthy.
Add to that fact, in 2030 the senior numbers of people over 60, living in San Diego County will rise to over one million. Kelly noted that a large percentage of these seniors will be “elder orphans,” living without family or friends to help them buy groceries, stay independent, get to health care providers, or provide the intimate and social human contact that all people require.
“The point of the No Senior Alone foundation is to prepare to deal with this problem in the future, by making money and programs available today.”
A recent report by AARP confirmed that social isolation among older people has reached epidemic levels during COVID-19. The health effects of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and women are most vulnerable. Seniors are afraid to go to doctors, don’t always have transportation options, and are not facile with the digital age of telehealth and zoom interactions, adding to the crisis.
The SDSCF defines “elder orphans” as seniors, who are widowed, never married, have no family, or have family living in other parts of the country.
“They miss the most basic aspects of living – having someone to talk to,” said Congressman Juan Vargas, a supporter of the coalition and guest speaker at the announcement. He spoke about a senior woman who introduced herself to him at a recent funeral that he was attending for a friend.
“She was crying. I said, ‘It’s OK, don’t cry. My friend is going to a good place.’ She responded that she wasn’t crying for my friend, and that she didn’t even know him. But when she saw a gathering of people and recognized me, she just wanted to talk to someone. She hadn’t spoken to another human being since March. Can you even imagine?” Vargas asked.
“By announcing this new Foundation, we are inviting people to join us in getting a handle on this crisis through philanthropic contributions and developing programs with senior centers, senior non-profits, government and healthcare facilities that help our elders, especially the elder orphans find the welcome, will, purpose, and opportunities to remain vital members of our communities,” Kelly stated.
Kelly also noted that funds raised to assist senior centers and programs developed to help isolated seniors know that they are “important, needed, and valued” would be shared county-wide, including Borrego Springs.
To view the entire briefing go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE7kBe0esVk&feature=youtu.be