Help us raise $1 Million to end social isolation for San Diego’s most vulnerable seniors during COVID-19

Social isolation has been dubbed “the new silent killer” and acknowledged by the World Health Organization as a public health crisis. Research shows the negative impact of isolation on a person’s health and well-being is equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day – increasing the risk of chronic health conditions including depression, anxiety, dementia, malnutrition, physical decline, and death.

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed daily life for all San Diegans, but few have been impacted more than seniors. While businesses and public spaces begin to reopen, older people have little choice but to stay home and avoid social contact for their own safety. It is unclear when normal life will resume for our region’s older adults.

While social isolation was a pressing issue among older people even before the pandemic, COVID-19 has exacerbated the crisis. With in-person social activities on hold, senior centers closed, volunteer duties on hiatus, and contact with family members limited, older adults have been cut off from their communities and are living through a period of unprecedented loneliness. The situation is even more dire for the one in three seniors who live alone, many of whom are “elder orphans” without family or friends nearby to care for them. 

Many of our oldest, most isolated, and low-income community members – particularly people of color – are facing tremendous hardship with limited access to nutritious food, stable housing, social connection, and preventative healthcare services. The situation will only worsen as the pandemic drags on.

1 in 3 seniors age 65+ live alone. In San Diego County that's roughly 167,000 people.

How You Can Help

SDSCF has received a $500K matching grant from the Sahm Family Foundation to help end social isolation during COVID-19. With your support, we can raise $1 Million+ to provide flexible resources and innovative programs that sustain seniors’ health and wellbeing during this unprecedented time of need. Every dollar raised up to $500K will be matched, with funds being rapidly deployed in grants to senior centers and other community organizations that are supporting vulnerable populations.

Donate now and your gift will be matched!

If you’d like to donate stock, set up a donor advised fund, or leave a legacy gift, please contact Bob Kelly for more information at bob@sdscf.org. Prefer to mail a check? Our address is P.O. Box 60515, San Diego, CA 92106. Contributions to San Diego Seniors Community Foundation are tax deductible. Our federal EIN is 81-4910505.

An Unequal Hardship

Eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths in the United States have been adults age 65 and over, yet many in our society are unmoved by the moral imperative to keep seniors safe. From the “boomer remover” memes on social media to discussions of rationing ventilators, the treatment of older people as disposable has been a pervasive theme since the pandemic began.

While young people go to parties, eat at restaurants and lead largely “normal” lives, the risk of exposure is compounded for older people, forcing them to retreat to the safety of their homes. The lack of public attention and resources to address the health and wellbeing of vulnerable elders is a reminder of the invisibility of this population and the subtle but prevalent ageist attitudes that permeate our society.

Further, the inequities experienced by older people during the pandemic vary widely according to race, income, education level, and other social factors. The communities of color that have been hit hardest by the virus experience higher levels of poverty, hunger, and housing insecurity, amplifying the urgency of the crisis.

Many low-income seniors in San Diego lack internet access and/or devices that would allow them to connect with loved ones, access tele-health, and engage in other meaningful activities while at home. They may live in neighborhoods where they don’t feel safe going out, or lack access to safe forms of transportation. These San Diegans are the ones who suffer most from our lack of a regional support network for older people, and who could most benefit from strategic investments to help seniors access basic needs, stay engaged in their communities, and age with health and dignity.

Finding Solutions

During this trying time, SDSCF is partnering with community-based organizations across San Diego County to support at-risk seniors and combat the negative effects of social isolation. Our guiding principal is to ensure that every local senior has someone they can turn to and trust. To this end, we are working to fund programs and projects that address the root causes of isolation, with a special focus on elder orphans and disadvantaged populations, to make a lasting impact on older adults in our region both during and after the pandemic.

Our goal as a community foundation is to buoy the efforts of local senior service providers, which have played a crucial role in supporting the needs of older people during this public health emergency. These organizations have been severely impacted by the economic fallout of COVID-19, however, as program revenue has evaporated, fundraising events have been canceled, and municipal budgets have been slashed. There is an urgent need for philanthropy to help plug these funding gaps so organizations can continue doing work that is more important now than ever.

Make a difference in the lives of elder San Diegans. Please give today. 

Thank you to our partner

Thank you to our supporters

  • Bob and Debi Kelly Fund at San Diego Seniors Community Foundation
  • Buzz Wooley Fund at the San Diego Foundation
  • Del Mar Healthcare, Inc.
  • Emily Young
  • Gary and Mary West Foundation
  • Hervey Family Fund at the San Diego Foundation
  • Joan Spencer
  • Linda Urden
  • Mary Kay Walsh
  • Palmer John Groenewold Jr. Charitable Trust
  • Randi Larsson
  • Robert Clelland
  • Valerie Lewis
  • Samual H French and Katherine
  • Weaver Fund at Wells Fargo