Fighting Social Isolation
Public health research in the United States indicates that the magnitude of health risks posed by social isolation are similar to cigarette smoking, and are greater than the risks posed by physical inactivity and obesity. Like toxic stress, loneliness can impair immune systems, disrupt sleep patterns, and cloud thinking abilities. Despite the known health risks, loneliness and isolation are still largely stigmatized in American culture. Identifying loneliness and isolation in oneself can be a challenging and shameful experience; it can be even more difficult to figure out what to do about it.
Purposeful aging through volunteerism
Studies associate volunteerism with lower rates of mortality and depression, increased strength and energy, decreased symptoms of depression, and delayed physical disability. Purpose—engagement and working toward goals as we age—is important for longevity as well as vitality, productivity, and lower rates of cognitive decline, stroke, and heart attack.
An important key to aging successfully is feeling that our lives are meaningful, that we have created something that will endure beyond us. At every age people need some structure in their lives and a reason to get up in the morning. Without it, sickness and earlier death are more likely.
Enjoying an additional three decades of life, on average, compared to what our forebears could expect at the start of the 20th century, today’s aging adults have the time to explore those goals while contributing to the community that they live in. Communal volunteering will give them a chance to get to know people and become integrated into the community, thus breaking the cycle of loneliness.
The benefits of Artistic expression for older adults
Research has shown that the creation of new neural connections can delay dementia and other degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. These neural connections are formed by developing new skills and doing creative activities. Urban Art gives older adults the perfect setting for creativity to take place, and also creates opportunities for social interaction and the building of inter-generational bonds and friendships between people from different sectors of society. We wish to bring together different groups and thus create social change.
Retired people living in Beit Shemesh and the surrounding area, and specifically new “Olim”. Number of participants: 40
Our plan is to create three outdoor art projects during this academic year. The time required to complete each art piece is about 10 weeks, with a two month break in between. Work has started on the first one.
The senior citizen volunteers is under the guidance of a professional artist Sarah Tikvah Kornbluth, specializing in the field of “Place-making- Urban Art”. Three murals will be created and will beautify the city of Beit Shemesh.
Senior citizens, both veteran Israelis and newcomers to Israel from different countries along with young people, will join our group, creating inter-generational bonds and leaving an imprint on the city they live in.