Isolation impacts the health and wellbeing of nearly half of San Diego’s seniors. In partnership with the San Diego Foundation’s Age Friendly Communities initiative, Jewish Family Service is working to change that.
In San Diego County, the population of adults ages 65 and older is expected to double by 2030. At a time when more seniors are requiring additional help to support their daily living, a startling number suffer from a lack of social connection. In a survey of San Diegans ages 65 and older, SANDAG found that 42% of San Diego County’s seniors live alone and nearly half (46%) report isolation as a factor negatively impacting their quality of life.
As research continues to uncover the factors that influence wellbeing across the lifespan, more attention is being paid to the effects of isolation in older age. Studies have shown isolation is linked to a heightened risk of cognitive decline, dementia, potential need for long-term care, and even mortality. For vulnerable seniors who lack a proper safety net, the daily struggle to meet even basic needs for nutrition, healthcare, and transportation can further undermine their physical and mental health.
As a human services agency that welcomes the entire community, Jewish Family Service works to ensure that older San Diegans can lead safe and independent lives in the neighborhoods they call home. One area where the nonprofit continues to lead the way is in offering safe, cost-effective transportation solutions for older adults through On the Go, a program of Charitable Adult Rides & Services (CARS), operated by Jewish Family Service. To date, the program has provided more than 300,000 rides.
With funding from the San Diego Foundation’s Age Friendly Communities grants, the agency is launching a breakthrough service, On the Go: Navigator, which partners with ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber to offer riders ages 60 and older safe, same-day transportation anywhere in San Diego County. The average ride-share option costs 20% less than a taxi service.
For people like Christy Meeks, whose mother recently stopped driving and does not have access to a cell phone, On the Go: Navigator is a game changer.
“The peace of mind that On the Go is monitoring my mom’s rides and communicating with the Lyft drivers to make sure she is getting dropped off and picked up safely is a huge blessing,” said Meeks.
In addition to its Navigator service, Jewish Family Service’s On the Go program coordinates the largest volunteer-based senior transportation network in San Diego. The program depends on a dedicated team of volunteer drivers and is always in need of more help to meet the rising demand for services. For 14% of San Diegans 65 and older, transportation is a real concern – that represents more than 53,000 people with an immediate need.
“The reality is that somewhere in your neighborhood there’s an older adult struggling to stay connected to the people and places that are most important to them," said Jewish Family Service CEO Michael Hopkins. “We are calling on our community to help us change that. A car and an hour or two a month are all it takes.”
To learn more about flexible individual and group transportation options with On the Go, contact Jewish Family Service at (858) 637-3210 or visit www.jfssd.org/onthego.