Local Nonprofit Tackles Loneliness Epidemic
Source: Adventures in Caring
Generation Z (ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation according to the CIGNA U.S. Loneliness Index (2018). College age students have the highest loneliness scores, and more than 50% of chronically ill seniors in local long-term care centers have no visitors.
Adventures in Caring puts the two generations together to combat the social isolation that afflicts them both. (Social isolation is as harmful to health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.)
“More than a volunteer program” explains longtime Executive Director, Simon Fox “this is a year-long service-learning internship. It is for students who are planning to pursue careers in health care.” Now, undergraduates from UCSB are stepping up to help lead it.
“For the first time in its 35-year history, Adventures in Caring is shifting responsibility to an on-campus student leadership team” says Krishna Balagopal, the Outreach Committee Chair.
The team is recruiting, coaching, and supervising sixty volunteer interns who befriend six hundred local seniors isolated by illness, throughout the school year. All student interns learn how to communicate with compassion, a core skill needed by all future doctors, nurses and health professionals. The leadership team is learning to build a program that teaches it.
The interns don’t just give of their time. They sacrifice their own ego by wearing the program’s signature Raggedy Ann and Andy uniforms—to become better listeners who are safe to confide in. They are always huggable, easily recognized and vividly remembered, even by those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Jesse Basra, the head of the Program Documentation Committee says, “We have the opportunity to rediscover the positive impact students can have on the community, and to evaluate ways that we can become better listeners.”
Adventures in Caring Foundation, founded in 1984, is a nonprofit 501(c)3 based in Santa Barbara, CA. It’s two-fold mission is to: 1) Restore well-being for those who are isolated by illness and 2) Advance doctoring, nursing, and caregiving by teaching how compassion is communicated at a standard that enables healing. Its vision is to complement the objective science of medicine with the subjective art of forming healing partnerships, to build well-being for the whole person.
Learn more at: www.AdventuresInCaring.org
Footnotes: Research Citations
1. Social isolation is as harmful as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, and twice as dangerous as obesity. Holt-Lundstad & Smith, PLoS Medicine (2010)
2. Generation Z (ages 18–22) is the loneliest generation. Students have higher loneliness scores than retirees. CIGNA U.S. Loneliness Index (2018)
3. Approximately 1 in 6 adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental health condition. There is one constant in the pathology: they also suffer from loneliness. Milligan-Saville et al. The Lancet (2017)
4. Cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems become far more fatal when you face them alone. Berkman & Pinker, The Village Effect: Why Face-to-Face Contact Matters (2015)