Promoting Healthy Aging Through Social Connection

"Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty." 
                                                                                                                        - Mother Teresa

The Joseph & Vera Long Foundation aims to improve the well-being of the residents of Northern California and Hawaii by supporting, strengthening and enhancing programs and organizations that address the unmet health and healthcare needs of vulnerable members of the community.  Our Promoting Healthy Aging Through Social Connection Program funds organizations enhancing the health and well-being of older adults by reducing social isolation.

The Foundation targets funding opportunities with realistic goals and diverse funding streams.  Preference will be given to organizations that emphasize measurable effectiveness and demonstrate a commitment to promoting health equity.  Time-limited projects which are difficult to fund through traditional channels will receive special consideration.

Social connection is critical to the health and well-being of older adults.  And yet, one in every six older Americans feels isolated, with more than half of them being chronically lonely.  The health impact of social isolation is as significant as high blood pressure, obesity, and lack of exercise, resulting in as much as a 50% increase in early mortality, equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.  Groups of older people at particular risk for social isolation include those who are unpartnered, live alone, lack a reliable source of transportation, have limited English proficiency, care for disabled family members, or lack information about or access to available community resources.

While there is limited awareness of the extent of this problem, there are model programs and effective solutions that can ameliorate social isolation.  Part-time employment and volunteer roles help older adults stay active, remain socially engaged, feel needed, and have a sense of meaning in their lives.  Telephone and online interventions can be just as effective as in-person contact for reducing loneliness.  Group support programs enhance problem-solving skills, decrease stress, increase knowledge about available services and improve social and psychological well-being.

If we can make community social programs more available, more accessible, more appropriate (e.g., culturally relevant) and more welcoming, we can help foster social connections for older adults, reduce social isolation and improve the quality-of-life of our community's most detached and vulnerable elders. 

The Foundation seeks to support organizations that provide seniors with opportunities for productive engagement and social connection and that develop effective solutions to the issue of social isolation.

By helping existing programs and promoting innovations, we aim to ensure that targeted groups of older adults become more socially connected, supported and engaged in their communities; this will lead to improved health and well-being.

Grants will be made for:

  • Program Costs

  • Capacity Building

  • Discounted Access to Services

  • Capital Improvements

Populations targeted:  Seniors (65+) at risk of social isolation

Examples of the types of programs that we are looking to support include:​

  • In-Home Visits

  • Telephone Support

  • Peer Group Support

  • Community Social Networking

  • Transportation & Technology Facilitation

  • Community Social & Educational Programs

  • Part-time Employment

  • Senior Volunteering

​Preference will be given to programs and organizations with a high outreach to low-income seniors living in their own homes.

To submit a request for funding from the Promoting Healthy Aging Through Social Connection grant program, please follow the process outlined on the Apply page.