Social isolation is something many elders struggle with, and the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly magnified this issue. Such isolation is dangerous for our health and wellbeing, and in fact, studies show that prolonged isolation is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is more harmful than obesity. For Native elders, where the pandemic has hit even harder in their communities due to current and a long history of racism against First Nation peoples, social isolation has been exponentially worse. Addressing social isolation by promoting and encouraging connection, as well as passing policies to end systemic racism and bring retribution to harm done, is key to strengthening their wellbeing and longevity.
To this end, the National Indian Council on Aging on Aging (NICOA) has launched a 3-month #ConnectedIndigenousElder campaign to spread awareness and encourage caregivers, youth and tribal leaders to take actions that directly lift up, support and, most importantly, connect with their elders. This campaign encourages them to honor their elders as the culture keepers, language speakers, teachers, mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers and uncles, family and cherished relatives they are.
For more information on the campaign and how to get involved, see:
- Press release
- #ConnectedIndigenousElder campaign website
- YouTube PSA for #ConnectedIndigenousElder campaign
Also, make sure to check out and share these ways to love our elders: Love Your Elders (PDF). Everyone benefits when our elders are honored, connected and happy.