Nearly 20 percent of San Diego County’s 682,000 residents who are 60 or older are living alone, according to the California Department of Aging. And that was before COVID-19. Now, with the pandemic impacting our oldest neighbors the hardest, more and more San Diegans are living alone to remain safe.
Now, more than ever, staying connected is critical. Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to increased risks for a number of physical and mental conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease and depression.
Fortunately, local nonprofit San Diego Oasis is doing something about it.
Supported by a $120,000 grant from the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, as well as other state and local funders, San Diego Oasis is purchasing and distributing more than 300 computer tablets to isolated seniors throughout the region to provide online connectivity, telehealth access and more.
“The pandemic has moved San Diego Oasis to a ‘senior center without walls’ where our members can attend classes from the comfort and safety of their homes as they are one of the most vulnerable populations affected by the virus,” says Simona Valanciute, president and CEO, San Diego Oasis. “But for those who don’t have tech capabilities to tune into our virtual classes, the donated devices provide an opportunity for our organization to reach and engage with them, expanding our reach to an even broader audience, and allows us to support more older adults in need.”
Seniors at a recent computer tablet distribution at Grossmont Center in La Mesa were grateful for the gift.
“Not having a computer or a laptop or a tablet means feeling more isolated and not being up on what’s going on, and there’s a lot going on right now,” said disabled Army veteran Debarah Wiggs of San Diego. “It also means you can’t connect with the programming Oasis offers. I’d be a mess. Seniors are a part of the world, too, but it seems you’re sort of invisible after a certain age.”
San Diego Oasis is a nonprofit dedicated to successful aging with a focus on lifelong learning, and enriching the lives of older adults by keeping them active and engaged to prevent social isolation and sedentary behavior. Its work in a COVID-19 world means connecting virtually with thousands of older adult members to offer online classes. However, a number of its members have expressed lack of devices either due to affordability or not understanding how to use them. Oasis is working to help them.
Oceanside resident and Marine veteran Elizabeth Eason emphasized how important the support is at such a difficult time. “It will help me stay connected,” she said. “You have to be tech wise these days.”
The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund has been at the forefront of helping tens of thousands of residents ranging from seniors to preschoolers suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic and social impacts.
The Fund has raised and granted more than $50 million to date from over 3,300 individuals, businesses and funds.
You can help our older residents by donating today.