Group to Tackle Social Isolation in Those Over 60

Claudia Apfelbaum, for the Shuttle

In this era of Baby Boomers retiring, divorcing, becoming widowed, etc. the experience of social isolation is a major social problem. It is so significant that the English government has taken note and created a Ministry of Loneliness.

In this country, efforts are being made, mostly by social service agencies, to help counter people’s experience of social isolation by offering social activities and groups. Still, many people slide by, disconnected. A friend shared with me that a man died in his neighborhood — a fairly social place — and no one came to his funeral because the man was relatively new to the community and had not made friends with anyone. My friend felt terrible that he had never reached out to this man and invited him over for a cup of coffee. Social research informs us that the simple act of neighbors talking over fences to one another is a small but significant way to counter social isolation. 

I run Overcoming Isolation, a group in which people over 60 can explore their challenges with social relationships and develop social skills. It is also a place to talk about personal life issues in a safe environment. Participants give and receive support, feedback and information from one another.

Here are some quotes from participants about the impact the group has had on their lives:

“I experience that my comments (in the group) are well-received. This makes me more comfortable with talking in all kinds of social settings.”

“I feel more comfortable with myself.”

“The idea I had, which was that people would not want to be bothered with what I had to say, is much diminished. “

“I now feel like I’m part of the human race.”

Overcoming Isolation meets twice a month on Thursdays from 2-3:30 p.m. in Germantown. For more information, contact me at or 215-317-8855.

Claudia Apfelbaum, LCSW, has a private practice in Northwest Philadelphia, where she sees individuals and couples. Her website is: