AARP’s Community Connections Platform Connects Mutual Aid Groups
A new online platform launched by the American Association of Retired Persons Innovation Labs allows users to organize and find local volunteer groups to help pick up groceries, provide financial assistance or lend emotional support to neighbors, friends and loved ones. Across the country, these informal online groups—also called “mutual aid” groups— help communities stay connected at a time when people must practice social distancing to stay safe.
“We may need be physically isolated, but we don’t have to feel alone,” said Andy Miller, senior vice president of AARP Innovation Labs. “Through this innovative platform, people in need of help from — or who want to offer help to — their communities are empowered to engage. In this unprecedented time, AARP remains committed to helping the 50-plus population and AARP Community Connections is one more way we’re innovating to improve our communities.”
Community Connections includes multiple resources to help those who are feeling isolated, depressed, overwhelmed or anxious. Users are able to request a call from an AARP volunteer or a trained counselor, create an account with Savo to make connecting with their families easier and/or join “The Mighty,” a safe, supportive online community for people facing health challenges and their caregivers.
Social isolation was a common problem, even before the coronavirus pandemic: A 2020 study, published by
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the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and supported by AARP Foundation, reported 43 percent of adults age 60 or older said they had felt lonely. While social isolation and loneliness are serious health issues by themselves, they can also exacerbate existing health problems, such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes. Community Connections helps people reach out to volunteers in their community who are willing to help their neighbors with their unique needs.
“Social distancing is an important practice right now, but that’s about physical space,” said AARP Montana state director Tim Summers. “Social connection is about meaningful connections with our friends, family and social network. And we can still practice social connection. It’s actually more important now than ever before.”
AARP Community Connections is live and completely free to use. AARP membership is not required. For more information, visit aarpcommunityconnections. org. AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp. org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.