Editor’s note: This is the first article in a series published on McKnight Home Care on how loneliness and isolation affect older people in the home. This stems from writer Diane Eastabrook’s participation in the 2021 Age Boom Academy, a free training scholarship from Columbia Journalism School and the Mailman School of Public Health.

Four years ago, a stroke changed the life of 74-year-old David Walker, leaving the affable Navy veteran with vision problems and a paralysis in one leg. With the exception of the occasional caregiver visits, Walker is most of the time alone and confined to his San Francisco studio.

The feeling of isolation and loneliness is sometimes debilitating for a man who enjoys discussing cooking, music and his many other interests. Walker’s lifeline to the outside world is the Institute on Aging Friendship Line, which connects homebound seniors by phone to volunteers.

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