Press Releases

DFTA Launches Campaign to Limit Social Isolation Among Older New Yorkers During COVID-19.

Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda voices radio PSAs that ask New Yorkers to volunteer and reach out to City elders.

NEW YORK (June 17, 2020) – The New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) is launching a campaign focused on limiting social isolation among older New Yorkers while the City shelters in place. The campaign includes public service announcements on social media, news outlets and local radio that ask New Yorkers reach out and call older adults, and to consider volunteering to DFTA’s Friendly Visiting program, an initiative that matches volunteers with older adults and is designed to build friendships and limit social isolation. As part of the campaign, Broadway producer and star Lin Manuel Miranda will voice the campaign’s radio public service announcement.

“Keeping older New Yorkers connected to others is crucial right now. Isolation among older New Yorkers is a serious issue and it can affect their health and wellbeing. And in this current landscape, it is affecting older New Yorkers more than ever,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “I want to thank Lin-Manuel Miranda, a native and true New Yorker, for helping us spotlight this important issue. By lending his voice to this campaign, he is providing a voice for the thousands of older New Yorkers who are facing social isolation.”

Studies have shown that social isolation can lead to health problems including depression and heart disease. With older New Yorkers being asked to stay inside and shelter in place due to COVID-19, they are at increased risk of having very little contact with others and becoming socially isolated. But calling an older adult by phone or video conference can help keep older adults engaged and connected.

In the radio public service announcement, Miranda asks “Can you imagine what isolation feels like to an older New Yorker living alone? You can do something about it in 10 minutes…a 10 minute phone call to an older New Yorker can work wonders.” Miranda also asks New Yorkers to consider volunteering for DFTA’s Friendly Visiting Program. The program currently has nearly 1,000 volunteers who are checking in on older New Yorkers. Normally, program volunteers visit older adults in person, but due to COVID-19, volunteers have been connecting with older adults by phone and video calls

The campaign launched this month and will be airing on local radio airwaves. Campaign PSAs will also be on social media and on local news digital platforms. In addition to its Friendly Visiting program, DFTA is limiting social isolation among older adults during this crisis by transitioning many of the programs that had been provided at senior centers to services that are accessible at home. This includes fitness, workshops, art classes and other activities offered on Zoom and other virtual platforms. In the last two months, more than 17,000 older New Yorkers have participated in virtual programs. Staff from Senior Centers are also connecting with older adults through more than 700,000 wellness check-ins by phone that provide older adults with social engagement, case management care, caregiver and home care monitoring.

“Our health is tied to our relationships, and during this COVID-19 pandemic many of our City’s seniors have had to stay apart physically from their families, friends and loved ones,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “This campaign will contribute significantly to the mental health and wellbeing of the elderly in our communities.”

“I thank the Department for the Aging for shining a spotlight on the significant challenges of social isolation, its mental health impact, and concrete ways we can all help combat it. I join them in asking all New Yorkers to do our part and reach out to an older neighbor, friend or relative. Pick up the phone and make a difference in someone's life," said Susan Herman, Director of the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC.

New Yorkers wishing to learn more or be part of the Friendly Visiting program can call DFTA’s Aging Connect at 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469).

About DFTA
The New York City Department for the Aging works to eliminate ageism and ensure the dignity and quality of life of New York City's diverse 1.7 million older adults. DFTA also works to support caregivers through service, advocacy, and education. DFTA is the largest area agency on aging in the United States.

Click here to listen to the radio PSA voice by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Social Isolation in older New Yorkers can affect their health
Social connection is a basic human need
Staying home makes all New Yorkers understand isolation