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Strategies to Promote Social Connections Among Older Adults During “Social Distancing” Restrictions

About the Course

Older age and medical comorbidity are factors associated with more severe illness and risk of death due to COVID-19 infection. Social distancing is an important public health strategy for controlling the spread of the virus and minimizing its impact on the older adult population. It comes at a cost, however. Loneliness is associated with myriad adverse health outcomes, one of which is impaired immune functioning, which adds even greater risk for coronavirus infection, complications and death. Older adults, therefore, are at compound risk, making effective management of loneliness and social isolation in our older patients a high priority target for preventive intervention. In this paper, the authors describe a cognitive-behavioral framework for social connectedness, including evidence-informed strategies clinicians can use to help patients develop a “Connections Plan” to stay connected and promote their social, mental, and physical health during “social distancing” restrictions. This set of strategies can be provided during brief (30 minute) telephone sessions and is analogous to creating a “Safety Plan” for suicide risk. The approach is illustrated with three case examples.

“This course is based on the reading-based online article, Strategies to Promote Social Connections Among Older Adults During “Social Distancing” Restrictions created by Kimberly A Van Orden, Ph.D., et al. in 2020.”

Publication Date:

May 2020

Course Material Authors

Course Material Authors authored the material only, and were not involved in creating this CE course. They are identified here for your own evaluation of the relevancy of the material this course is based on.

Kimberly A Van Orden, Ph.D.

Kimberly A Van Orden, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Van Orden's lab, the HOPE (Helping Older People Engage) Lab, is focused on developing new interventions to increase connectedness, as well as testing existing interventions that have promise for increasing connectedness, but have not been tested. Another focus of her work is theory testing to promote understanding of suicide and illuminate mechanisms that can serve as intervention targets. She has contributed to the formulation, refinement, and evaluation of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide.

Emily Bower, Ph.D.

Emily Bower, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor for the Clinical Psychology Program at Pacific University. Dr. Bower’s research and clinical interests are in geriatric mental health with specializations in late-life suicide prevention and the assessment and treatment of anxiety, including fear of falling. The overarching goal of her research is to examine how we adjust to functional changes (cognitive, physical, social) as we age and to leverage that information to develop or adapt behavioral interventions to promote mental health and prevent suicide among older adults. She is the principal investigator for the Behavioral Health and Aging Research Lab at Pacific University.

Julie Lutz, Ph.D.

Julie Lutz, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Her research focuses on associations between functional disability, chronic health problems, and suicide among older adults. More specifically, she is interested in how interventions promoting adaptive coping with changes in functioning and health may mitigate suicide risk in late life.

Course Creator

Elizabeth Mosco, Ph.D., PMH-C, CPLC

Elizabeth Mosco, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Reno, NV. She opened a private practice after 10 years of conducting home-based assessment and therapy with the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System. Dr. Mosco’s clinical interests include maternal mental health, older adults, and third wave cognitive behavioral therapies.

Recommended For:

Counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychologists and social workers. This course is appropriate for all levels of knowledge.

Course Objectives:

After taking this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss outcomes associated with social isolation in older adults.
  2. List at least 2 cognitive-behavioral strategies to address social isolation in older adults.
  3. Summarize the elements of a "Connections Plan."

Disclosure to Learners

Disclosure of Relevant Financial Relationships

CE Learning Systems adheres to the ACCME's Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Medical Education. Any individuals in a position to control the content of a CE activity – including faculty, planners, reviewers, or others ― are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible entities (formerly known as commercial interests).

The following relevant financial relationships have been disclosed by this activity's planners, faculty, and the reviewer:

Planners and Reviewers

The planners of this activity have reported that they have no relevant financial relationships.

Commercial support

There is no commercial support for this distance-learning course.

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Categorized in:

Course Number 103356
1 CE credit hour
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  • Reading-Based Online
Exam Fee $5.97
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