The COVID-19 pandemic has made it especially difficult for some older adults to maintain the personal relationships needed for mental and physical well-being.
To help seniors stay connected, UnitedHealthcare sponsored this year’s Spring Fling at the Guy B. Love Towers apartments in Knoxville, Tennessee. Residents, who include seniors, disabled and near-elderly individuals, were treated to a day of fun and fellowship at the event, held for the first time since 2019.
“We wanted to do something special to support seniors and help them reconnect and raise their spirits,” said Suha Assi, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement Plans of Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee. “It’s been a difficult few years for everyone, and it was rewarding to provide an entertaining and safe environment for residents to come together.”
Special guest Cedric Tillman, a University of Tennessee star wide receiver, was on hand to greet residents, participate in the festivities and talk football. Residents were also treated to a Hawaiian-themed cookout, music and activities such as cornhole and ring toss.
UnitedHealthcare volunteers helped with the event and gave away reusable bags that included a pill sorter, no-slip socks, lip balm and a toothbrush.
Loneliness and social isolation can lead to serious health conditions. Loneliness may lead to things like depression, poor sleep, anxiety, hypertension, cognitive decline, and heart disease and stroke. Additionally, social isolation may lead to an increased risk of dementia, cardiovascular disease, inflammation and reduced quality of life.
Researchers from UnitedHealthcare and OptumLabs, in conjunction with AARP Services Inc., found those who were both lonely and socially isolated were more likely to be older, with a lower quality of life, and greater medical needs and costs. They also had significantly higher rates of emergency room and inpatient admissions.
“We care about the communities we serve, and we want to be involved,” Suha said. “We try to make a positive difference in the lives and health of our seniors and step up in any way we can.”