Lightning Talk

A Novel Intervention for Loneliness in Geriatric Primary Care

Tuesday, September 13, 2022, 1:15 pm - 2:15 pm CDT

This Lightning Talk will describe and introduce a pilot research study using the Liberating Loneliness Program, a novel occupational therapy (OT) intervention, to address loneliness and chronic disease management among older adults in the primary care setting. The primary care setting is often fast-paced and requires the expertise and coordination of multiple professionals to provide the best quality of care. In addition, loneliness is a complex condition to address, as each person’s situation is unique. This intervention takes a holistic approach and requires building a relationship between the provider (in this case, the OT) and the patient to help identify life factors and feasible strategies to meet goals. Participants were given a voice in their own treatment and set personalized goals for themselves with the help of an OT making goals achievable, measurable, and meaningful. Strategies to meet these goals included involvement in community, drawing on strengths to meet personal health goals, and addressing barriers in their various contexts. This program also enhanced the patient experience in health care, as participants expressed feeling heard by a health care professional (OT) and appreciated having someone to help them work through any unaddressed chronic health issues. The program was integrated to the primary care setting, yet treatment sessions did not interfere with clinical flow as it was a service provided via telehealth and did not require adding appointment times at the in-person clinic. The unique opportunities and need for interprofessional collaboration in this project will be highlighted, as this was a significant component of the intervention’s success and participant recruitment. Referrals to other health professionals and regular communication with participants’ providers were necessary for successful implementation of this intervention and will continue to be necessary if this program is implemented in the future.