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New findings from insurance giant Humana (NYSE: HUM) show that nearly 31% of Americans over the age of 65 don’t feel socially engaged.

Social isolation has been a prevalent issue for many home health care and home care companies in the U.S. Such companies as LHC Group (Nasdaq: LHCG), FirstLight Home Care and Lifesprk have been working to find solutions to the issue.

Startups have also began working on the fringes of social isolation as well. For example, Silvernest is a company similar to Airbnb that pairs older adults to roommates.

Louisville-based Humana has been moving in the home health direction in the last year — the company acquired a stake in Kindred At Home and is pivoting its partnership with wearable-technology company FitBit (NYSE: FIT) to work on preventing and managing chronic conditions.

 

Now, in an effort to address isolation issues, Humana announced Tuesday a new series of programming and events. The events are offered in correspondence with Active Aging Week and in partnership with SilverSneakers.

“Social isolation has a measurable impact on physical and mental health and older adults are often uniquely affected due to the loss of a spouse, adult children moving away, lack of transportation and a host of other reasons,” Steve Janicak, chief growth officer at Tivity Health, said in a statement. “Our SilverSneakers members thrive on the social connections they make through the program. We’re excited to partner with Humana during Active Aging Week to promote the social and physical benefits of exercise to more seniors.”

Active Aging Week is a weeklong campaign that calls attention to the positivity of aging. The initiative is run by the International Council on Active Aging, a professional association that connects the active aging industry.

Franklin, Tennessee-based Tivity Health (Nasdaq: TVTY) is a leading provider of fitness and health improvement programs including SilverSneakers, a program that offers older Americans community fitness and is available to 15 million Medicare beneficiaries.

Humana’s Active Aging Week programming includes group wellness activities in location across the country designed to create an environment of socializing while pursuing an active lifestyle.

“Healthy aging is a group activity,” Dr. Meredith Williams, lead medical director at Humana, said in a statement. “Social isolation and loneliness can often impact health as much as physical attributes, which is why we want to inspire seniors to focus on whole-person health.”

Social isolation has the negative consequences on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, Majd Alwan, senior vice president of technology at Washington, D.C.-based LeadingAge and executive director of the Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST), recently told Home Health Care News.

Humana’s social isolation survey included responses from 1,627 U.S. adults 65 and older.

https://homehealthcarenews.com/2018/09/humana-launches-program-to-encourage-socialization-among-seniors/

Back in the day, Christy Bowman watched a lot of basketball games.

 

Like many moms, she took great pleasure in watching her kids play, in grade school, in junior high and in high school.

She had never played basketball herself, but Bowman tried her best to understand it.

 

The irony is not lost on Bowman that now, she could probably teach her two grown sons a thing or two about basketball.

"They played basketball for a lot of years," Bowman said. "But not as many years as I have at this point. I've stuck with this sport even longer than they did. I think that might be a surprise to them. But I also think they are very proud of me."

And rightfully so.

 

Bowman is a baller.

A senior baller. With 18 years of experience.

She started playing basketball at age 49, at the suggestion of a friend, and as a way to get out of the house. Bowman's dog had just died and she was looking for a distraction.

Now 67 and still being "distracted" by basketball, Bowman, a resident of Evanston, is not only a senior, but the senior basketball player of her family. She plays and practices basketball multiple times a week along the North Shore, and competes in senior leagues.

 

Earlier this month in West Dundee, she and a couple of teammates qualified for the 2019 National Senior Olympic tournament that will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They will play 3-on-3 basketball there.

It will be Bowman's seventh national tournament.

The National Senior Olympics are held every other year and draw more than 10,000 athletes in various sports, including track and field, volleyball, tennis and even horseshoes. The age range is from 50 to 100.

"I guess the challenge of doing something that was completely different than anything I had ever done was what got me into it," Bowman said of basketball. "It has challenged me mentally and physically, and being involved in a group and team dynamic has been really interesting to me.

 

"There is so much to basketball that I never even imagined and it makes me feel proud of myself because I'm still doing something and I'm staying active. There's a certain amount of confidence you get from that."

Edwina Dennis of Chicago, one of Bowman's basketball buddies, is literally the poster woman for senior confidence.

At the national tournament in Minneapolis in 2015, the National Senior Games in conjunction with Humana made posters of Dennis to promote seniors as fit athletes.

There was a reason the organization picked Dennis. She was 81 at the time and still going strong.

"I had my granddaughter with me and when we walked in, she was like, 'That's my grandma on that poster, that's my grandma,'" Dennis said with a laugh. "There I was all over the entrance and that was pretty great."

 

Now 84, Dennis just qualified for the 2019 national tournament. It will be her seventh national tournament. She started playing basketball in 2004, when she was 70.

"I have a slogan, 'If you don't use it, you're going to lose it,'" Dennis said. "If you don't move around regularly, pretty soon, you won't be able to move at all. You won't be able to get off the couch. I don't want that. That's what keeps me going.

"I'm really not even all that good at basketball. I'm not a great shooter. But I love being active and being competitive and I love playing."

 

And Dennis says that she has a lot of playing left in her.

How much longer will Dennis play basketball?

"I'm going for 100," Dennis said emphatically. "100 is the goal."

The National Senior Olympics for 2019 runs June 14 through June 25 in New Mexico. For more information, visit NSGA.com

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

 

Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

 

These senior woman are still ballers on the court