Plan from Second Annual Connectivity Summit on Rural Aging Targets Public Health Epidemic
NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A comprehensive report released today by Tivity Health highlights key action areas for addressing a public health crisis facing older adults: social isolation and loneliness. The report outlines takeaways from the second annual Connectivity Summit on Rural Aging, which was convened earlier this year by Tivity Health and centered on the impacts of social isolation for older adults, particularly those living in rural areas. The summary document was authored in partnership with Grantmakers In Aging, a membership organization of philanthropies with a common dedication to improving the experience of aging.
The report emphasizes the need for collaboration between the public and private sectors to create actionable solutions to address social isolation and loneliness. Additionally, the report identified a need for public policy changes, such as reforming health care delivery and payments systems, building on existing resources and infrastructure, and elevating the issue of social isolation and loneliness to the national level.
"Our priority is to develop an actionable agenda for policymakers and the public around social isolation and loneliness – and its impact on older adults, particularly those living in rural areas. The idea behind this Summit was to create a movement that would drive change through new ideas while building on existing resources and infrastructure," said Donato Tramuto, CEO of Tivity Health. "This year's Summit and resulting actions acknowledge social connection as a key social determinant of health and will catalyze change at the national and state levels for those aging in rural communities across this country."
Loneliness and social isolation affect as many as 43% of older adults.1 Social isolation is equivalent to the health risks of smoking 15 cigarettes per day, reducing a lifespan by eight years.2 Moreover, other social determinants of health – factors including access to a grocery store, housing supply, access to public transportation, or employment opportunities – can have an even more pronounced impact on the health and wellness of those living in a rural community.
At the Summit, Tivity Health also presented the results from a nationwide poll of seniors living in rural communities. The polling revealed that rural seniors resoundingly want public officials and business community leaders to work together to address this growing public health epidemic.
"Public-private collaboration is essential in creating the responses we need to alleviate social isolation, particularly across rural America, and philanthropy can play an important role in making those connections," says John Feather, PhD, CEO of Grantmakers In Aging and a member of the Rural Aging Advisory Council. "Engaging philanthropies of all kinds and sizes, particularly community and local foundations, ensures that programs will be solidly grounded in the needs and the strengths of each individual community and will be sustainable over time."
This year's Connectivity Summit on Rural Aging, held in August in Portland, Maine, was hosted by Tivity Health in partnership with Health eVillages, the MIT AgeLab, and the Jefferson College of Population Health. The event drew more than 150 national leaders from academia, government, business, and non-profit organizations.
With a growing senior population in the United States, the health ramifications associated with social isolation and loneliness will continue to mount. Next year's third annual Connectivity Summit will dive even deeper into the issue, analyze progress made throughout the year, and work to continue driving actionable change.
About Tivity Health
Tivity Health, Inc. is a leading provider of fitness and health improvement programs, with strong capabilities in developing and managing network solutions. Through its existing three networks, SilverSneakers® – the nation's leading community fitness program for older adults, Prime® Fitness and WholeHealth Living™, Tivity Health is focused on targeted population health for those 50 and over. With more than 15 million Americans eligible for SilverSneakers, over 10,000 fitness centers in the Prime Fitness Network, and more than 25 years of clinical and operational expertise in managing specialty health benefits and networks, including chiropractic services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, acupuncture, massage and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services, the Company touches millions of consumers across the country and works directly with hundreds of healthcare practitioners and many of the nation's largest payers and employers. In 2017, Tivity Health launched a rural aging initiative to address challenges unique to older adults in rural communities. Learn more at TivityHealth.com or SilverSneakers.com.
1 Perissinotto C. M., Cenzer I. S., Covinsky K. E. (2012). Loneliness in older persons. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172, 1078-1084. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.1993.
2 Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Baker M, Harris T, Stephenson D. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2015;10(2):227-37.
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