Disabled, home-bound older adults, especially those with limited financial means, often experience social isolation due to their home-bound state. Social isolation/loneliness can lead depression and further deterioration of their physical health conditions.

This project is aimed at evaluating comparative effectiveness and potential scalability of short-term tele-delivered behavioral activation (Tele-BA) versus tele-delivered friendly visit (Tele-FV) as an intervention that can improve social connectedness among low-income home-bound seniors who experience social isolation and loneliness. The evaluation uses a two-site (New Hampshire and Texas), client-randomized, longitudinal follow-up model with 240 home-bound older adults who receive Meals on Wheels services.

The Texas site of this project is the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with Meals on Wheels Central Texas (MOWCTX), Inc. of Austin, TX, a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency that provides nutritional and comprehensive social services to 5,000 community-residing, mostly low-income older adults. The principal investigator, Namkee Choi, and MOWCTX have had a strong, ongoing partnership for over a decade.

The New Hampshire site is Dartmouth College and the New Hampshire Coalition of Aging Services. Case managers located at each community partners will refer potential clients to the research team who will screen, provide intervention, and conduct research assessments to evaluate intervention outcomes. The case managers will have ongoing meetings with the research team members to share their feedback on the recruitment process.

The significance of this project is in testing an easily implementable psychosocial intervention that can provide socially isolated home-bound older adults tools that they can use to increase their social connectedness and prevent depression.

Funding for this project was made possible by the AARP Foundation that provides targeted grants for demonstration projects aimed to reduce social isolation/loneliness and increase social connectedness among older adults.