Isolation impacts the health and well-being of nearly half of Louisville’s seniors. JFCS’s Klein Older Adult Services has several programs geared to help seniors age in place through transportation and home care services.
In Louisville and across the country, the population of adults ages 65 and older is expected to double by 2050. At a time when more seniors require additional help to support their daily living, a startling number suffer from a lack of social connection. In The State of Aging report from 2013, it was noted that 51% of seniors live alone; research shows that individual and community-level isolation leads to poor social supports and higher rates of depression among older adults and can result in overall health complications. As research continues to uncover the factors that influence well-being across the lifespan, more attention is being paid to the effects of isolation in older age. For vulnerable seniors who lack a proper safety net, the daily struggle to meet even basic needs for nutrition, health care, and transportation can further undermine their physical and mental health.
As a comprehensive human services organization that serves the entire community, JFCS works to ensure that older Louisvillians can lead safe and independent lives in their homes and communities. One area where the nonprofit continues to lead the way is in offering safe, reliable, cost-effective transportation solutions for older adults through our Passport Around Louisville Service (PALS) and its partner program JOY!Ride which enables Jewish seniors to attend Jewish holiday and community programming. Last year alone, these programs provided more than 6,000 rides!
For people like 86 year old Rita, a widow, living alone in an apartment with children who do not live in Louisville, “The peace of mind that PALS drivers are there to make sure she is getting dropped off and picked up safely is a huge blessing,” said her daughter Susan.
“The reality is that in every neighborhood in Louisville an older adult is struggling to stay connected to the people and places that are most important to them,” said Naomi Malka, Director of the JFCS PALS program. “We are calling on our community to help us change that by volunteering. A car and an hour or two a month are all it takes.” PALS is a service that is always growing, and we cannot meet the needs of our seniors with our paid drivers, we need a dedicated and flexible volunteer corps that can help. “It is not just about driving the seniors; it is about getting a chance to sit with someone for 20-30 minutes and hear their stories. You can brighten up their day which is so important,” says Kim Toebbe, volunteer coordinator for JFCS.