Baltimore County Department of Aging’s Call to Action to Combat Social Isolation
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and the Baltimore County Department of Aging (BCDA) announced the first ever No Senior Eats Alone Day to be held on September 12, 2019. The initiative aims to encourage County residents to connect with seniors in their communities in order to combat social isolation in older adults.
“Our seniors are treasures in our communities, and as they age, we all have an obligation to help protect them from the detrimental effects of social isolation, which is regrettably all too common among older adults,” Olszewski said. “I look forward to sharing a meal with seniors on No Senior Eats Alone Day, and I hope all county residents will look for opportunities to do so as well.”
What is No Senior Eats Alone Day?
No Senior Eats Alone Day is part of the BCDA’s 2019 Living Connected initiative, which has provided resources and activities to combat social isolation in older adults. Many life events that occur later in life—retirement, loss of a friend or spouse, moving, changes in health—happen as one ages.
This can cause one’s social network to become very small, leading to feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Further, research has proven that isolation has detrimental effects on one’s physical and mental health. The effects are wide-ranging. In fact, it is said that loneliness and social isolation has the same effect as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
“Each of us is aware of someone in our communities that may be feeling isolated and alone. On No Senior Eats Alone Day, everyone is asked to reach out to someone in the community that would benefit from feeling more connected and valued by inviting them to share a meal or to join a group of peers to break bread,” said BCDA Director Laura Riley.
On September 12, 2019, Baltimore County’s 20 senior centers will host lunches where all older adults are welcome to join our Eating Together Program for a special meal. This is a wonderful opportunity to visit a center, meet the members and discover the diverse activities offered at the site. If you know a friend or family member that may be interested in experiencing a senior center, you may encourage them to call their local center to register at 410-887-3052 before September 3, 2019. Additionally, many centers are offering day-long opportunities to share a meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Religious institutions, restaurants, community associations, housing buildings and individuals throughout the County can join this day to reach out to older adults and make them feel valued and appreciated. In fact, BCDA is looking for partners in the community to register and host events or participate in other ways. There are many ways to participate:
Host a meal for seniors at your church, synagogue or community organization. Provide a discount or free dessert to anyone bringing a senior in to eat that day. Ask your members to reach out to someone they think is isolated to go out for a meal or bring the meal to them to share. Deliver a meal to a lonely neighbor and visit with them. Assist older adults in getting to one of the County’s 20 senior centers for a meal.
Partners may register to have an event in support of No Senior Eats Alone Day. If you have questions about being a partner, contact BCDA’s Communication Office at 410-887-2002.
No Senior Eats Alone Day is just one effort on behalf of BCDA to keep older adults connected. If you know of an older adult that would benefit from getting connected to the Department of Aging’s resources and programs, contact MAP or the Maryland Access Point of Baltimore County at 410-887-2594 or email email@example.com.
The mission of the Baltimore County Department of Aging is to strengthen lives by providing services, programs and connections to resources. For more information on the various programs provided by BCDA, visit the Department of Aging website.