Social isolation is the state of having little to no contact between an individual and society. In older adults, social isolation can be detrimental to their wellbeing and lead to health problems, including depression and heart disease. With older New Yorkers asked to stay inside due to COVID-19, they are at increased risk of having very little contact with others and becoming socially isolated.
The City Department for the Aging is working with its network of providers and City agencies to combat social isolation among older New Yorkers through multiple initiatives that include virtual programs, wellness check-in calls, the Friendly Visiting volunteer program, and a social isolation awareness campaign, which includes a radio PSA read by Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda.
DFTA’s Friendly Visiting Program, a ThriveNYC initiative, matches volunteers with older adults and is designed to build friendships and decrease social isolation. Volunteers visit on a regular basis to talk about shared interests and experiences, forming friendships in the process. Due to COVID-19, volunteers are maintaining social distancing guidelines and are connecting with their matches by phone and video calls on a regular basis.
If you, or an older adult you know, would like a friendly visitor, contact a case-management agency in your area. To become a Friendly Visiting volunteer, call Aging Connect at 212-244-6469, or fill out an online volunteer interest form.
For older New Yorkers: Health guidelines recommend that older New Yorkers stay at home and avoid large social gatherings. But there are different ways to stay connected with others.
DFTA providers are offering virtual programs over the phone and through video platforms like Zoom. Some of the virtual programs offered include fitness, art, and technology classes, as well as comedy workshops and other creative programs that are designed to keep older adults active and connected with each other. To learn what programs your local senior center is offering, call a senior center near you. In addition, DFTA partner Older Adult Technology Services (OATS) offers free online classes every week through their website, senior planet.org.
If you would like to talk to someone about stress, depression or anxiety, you can speak to a counselor by calling NYC Well. Spearheaded by First Lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC initiative, NYC Well offers free, confidential mental health support. You can speak to a counselor via phone, text or chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355).
For all New Yorkers: Take 10 minutes to call an older relative, neighbor and friend.
These 10 minutes can make a huge difference in the life of an older adult. You can reach multiple older New Yorkers by creating your own “Quaranteam” to stay connected and keep the momentum going. It’s easy and fun to do.
You can also sign up to become a Friendly Visiting volunteer and connect with an older New Yorker. Call Aging Connect at 212-244-6469, or fill out our volunteer online form.