Social Isolation — Is It More?

We all have heard the message: Social distancing-6 feet away, “stay apart so we can be together later.”

These are all good pieces of advice in these difficult times. These reminders are given with care and concern for all of us so that we can be together later. We will do our best to do our part.

After several days than have turned into a few weeks, that may become even more time-it is important to take stock in how are you really doing? Social isolation is more than feeling lonely. It can have physical and emotional influences on each of us. Some of us are alone, some with family or friends in our situations. I heard people say they feel alone in a crowded room-so the number of people around you don’t necessarily mean you can’t feel alone or isolated. AARP noted that 1 in 3 adults over the age of 45 feel lonely. Julianne Holt-Lunstad professor at Brigham young University states, “We know that lacking social connection puts us at greater health risk.” (Darling, L, 2019). AARP makes the distinction between loneliness-what/how we feel about our situation and isolation which are specific things that can be measured like size of one’s social group, transportation and resources.

So, they are really two parts to think about-how we feel about the situation before us and what don’t we have access to. Luckily, we have some good advice coming out of our local government agencies that can help. Sometimes they seem so simple that we can overlook their value. So, what can we do to prevent feeling lonely?

We can make efforts to reach out to others or let them know we need them to reach out to you. Many times, we all think people should just know what we need without us telling them-this usually ends up badly. Good communication of what your needs are truly helps others understand your need and improves their ability to meet your needs.

Locally we have some help lines for people to talk with professionals that can assist you. The United Way has a resource website (uwayscc.org/chautauqua-county-covid-19-response) that lists many services and programs to help. Here are a few that you can call directly if you are feeling lonely or overwhelmed by your situation.

NY State COVID 19 Emotional Support Hotline: 1-844-863-9314

Call a Pastor Crisis Line: 716-226-1494

MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION Call or text: 716-661-9044

AARP has a program that you can visit online called “Connect To Effect. https://connect2affect.org/

The website takes you through a short survey on things like how often you talk with others throughout the week, are your care and support needs being met, transportation, and how you feel connected. It can then score your answers on a low, moderate, or high risk for social isolation. The AARP site then gives you directions to find support services in your area. NY Connects is here for you as well.

You can call the NY connects helpline to talk with an operator about what’s happening and learn more about solutions available to you. Connect is the important word- stay connected. It may take some work, but it will be worthwhile and help you to be as health as you can until we are all able to be together again. Satay strong and determined to remain healthy. NY Connects is your access to local community services and supports, Open to all residents with populations served, which include the elderly, disabled, developmentally disabled, children with special needs and caregivers living in Chautauqua County.

This service is confidential and free; and focused on the consumer’s needs and resources available to them for access to local community services and supports for long term care. Our phone number is 800-342-9871 or local Mayville 753-4582, Jamestown 661-7582, Dunkirk 363-4582.


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