MADISON — AARP Community Connections, a new online platform launched by AARP Innovation Labs this week, 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 Wisconsin and the entire 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,” said AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson.

“We may need to 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.”

AARP 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;

• Easily create an account with Savo to make connecting with their families easier;

• 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 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.

And while social isolation and loneliness are serious health issues by themselves, they also can exacerbate existing health problems such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes, Wilson explained.

AARP Community Connections helps people reach out to volunteers in their community who are willing to help their neighbors with their unique needs. The platform is live and completely free to use, and AARP membership is not required.

For more information, visit www.aarpcommunityconnections.org.

Learn more at www.aarp.org.

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