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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Social Isolation & Loneliness Can Affect Your Health

The pandemic has taught us many lessons including how to navigate this new world of social distancing and isolating ourselves. What we’ve all experienced is a constant reality for many older people and people with disabilities: loneliness and social isolation.

In the U.S., 40% of people who have a disability and 43% of people age 65 or older say they feel lonely some or all of the time. Two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are socially isolated, with 66% reporting that their anxiety levels have increased during the pandemic according to the AARP Foundation. Studies confirm that there are serious physical, emotional, and psychological health impacts due to loneliness and social isolation. Research even estimates the effect is similar to that of smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

What can we do? We can each check in on friends, family and neighbors now and all year round. Make a friendly phone call or schedule a video chat to see how someone is doing. Ask if they need anything – groceries, supplies for a hobby, or their driveway or walk shoveled. If you live nearby, knock on their door. Have a brief conversation observing safety restrictions, of course. Encourage them to join you outside when weather permits and if they can safely do so – even if it’s just for a few minutes. They’ll benefit from the human contact – and so will you.

So, let’s all do what we can to support older people and people with disabilities. The simple act of showing you care can make a world of difference for someone who is alone and lonely.

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