Problem: Due to physical distancing, feelings of loneliness and social isolation doubled among older adults within the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic. Social isolation among older adults is an especially serious public health concern because it heightens their risk of a variety of physical and mental conditions, including heart disease, depression, and a weakened immune system.
We’ve done a lot of surveying of our members about “what is important to you all” and “what cause do you want to focus on at this time” and 76% of DoSomething members expressed interest in helping combat social isolation among their grandparents and other local senior citizens.
Our Objective: To build a campaign that activated young people to address social isolation among older populations in a safe way.
Insight: Our research revealed that encouraging older adults to share their stories benefits the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of older adults, and leads to greater empathy and stronger connection with the listener. In fact, seniors who have strong connections with people in their lives have a 50% greater likelihood of survival.
Call-To-Action: We created the “Senior Homies” campaign, which encourages young people to reach out to an older adult in their life and ask them to share a story to help decrease social isolation. Our members were able to participate in the campaign by engaging in one of the following actions:
Swap Stories. Call or video chat an older adult in their life and swap stories with their Senior Homie on a weekly basis to make sure everyone is feeling loved and connected during this time, which can be pretty isolating.
Teach Tech. For members who are sharing a household with a senior, they can sign up for our Grandparents Gone Wired mini-campaign and teach them to use new communications technology and help them stay connected in the long-term.
Community Connection. We provided our members with resources to help local senior homes or assisted living centers in their communities to get connected with seniors looking for someone to talk to.
A New Senior Homie. Some of our members did not have older adults in their lives to reach out to, but they still wanted to get involved. So we worked with Wish of a Lifetime, a national organization that grants life changing wishes to seniors in isolation, to connect our members with seniors over the phone and as pen pals to combat social isolation.
Social Media Activation: “Overheard Instagram” pages, where people post quotes or soundbytes of fun conversations they’ve heard around their city, are hugely popular. But in light of COVID-19 and social distancing, people aren’t overhearing each other unless it’s in the comfort of their own home. So we launched “Overheard on Zoom,” a weekly series from DoSomething.org, that aggregates our favorite quote submissions from young people’s interactions with the older adults on zoom/phone/facetime etc.
Campaign Landing Page: We launched a campaign microsite, which provided young people with all the information needed to participate. They received a step-by-step guide on how to complete all parts of the call to action, an FAQ section, and research resources to learn more about the cause issue.
SMS: Young people were also able to join the campaign simply by texting “Seniors to 38383” We invited our 2 million SMS subscriber list to participate. All they had to do was simply text back a picture of them completing the action (or an old photo, from before quarantine), with the story that was shared by the older adult in their life.
Marketing Partners: The campaign was amplified by marketing partners that shared our campaign as an impactful action people can take to give back during COVID-19. These partners include the Obama Foundation, VolunteerMatch, FastWeb, The Cramm, and Forbes.
Through the Senior Homies campaign, young people were engaging with a Senior in their life in a truly meaningful way. We always have DoSomething members circle back and tell us about the impact they made, and this time, it was personal. We heard from young people about new found relationships with their family members and heart-warming stories passed down from generations. So we created an editorial piece titled, “11 Stories From Seniors That Will Inspire You” to inspire more young people to get involved and help the seniors in their lives fight social isolation. Here were the final results:
Up to now, 29,955 stories have been swapped between young people and seniors.
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