New York City, the Department for Aging (DFTA) has launched a new campaign to limit social isolation among New Yorkers as the City continues to take shelter there upon reopening.
Studies show that social isolation can lead to health problems, including depression and heart disease, and more New Yorkers are not only at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, but are also more at risk of having very little contact with others and of becoming socially isolated.
The campaign launched this month and will be broadcast on local radio and social media. As part of the campaign, DFTA released a public service radio advertisement for Broadway from Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda asks, “Can you imagine what isolation feels like to an old New Yorker living alone? You can do something about it in 10 minutes… a 10-minute phone call to an old New Yorker can do wonders. ” Miranda also asks New Yorkers to consider volunteering for DFTA Friendly at the Visits Program, an initiative that matches volunteers with seniors and is designed to build friendships and limit social isolation .
DFTA’s program currently has nearly 1,000 volunteers who are to be checked into former New Yorkers. Under normal circumstances, the program’s adult visiting volunteers in person, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the volunteers were connecting with the elderly, by phone and video calls.
“Keeping the older New Yorkers connected to others is essential right now. Isolation among the elderly, New Yorkers, is a serious problem and can affect their health and well-being. And in this current landscape, it is affecting older, New Yorkers more than ever, ”said the Minister for Aging of Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “I would like to thank Lin-Manuel Miranda, a native and true New Yorker, for helping us to highlight this important issue. By lending his voice to this campaign, he is providing a voice for the thousands of elderly New Yorkers who face social isolation. ”
“Our health is linked to our relationships, and during this many COVID-19 pandemic in our City, the elderly had to remain physically separated from their families, friends and loved ones,” said the Health Commissioner , Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “This campaign will make a significant contribution to the mental health and well-being of seniors in our communities.”
DFTA is also rebalancing their programming at online centers for the elderly so that those at home can take advantage of it. This includes fitness, workshops, art classes and other activities offered on Zoom and other virtual platforms.
“I thank the Ministry of Aging for shining a spotlight on the important challenges of social isolation, its impact on mental health, and in a concrete way, we can all help fight it. I join them in asking all New Yorkers to do our part and touch an old neighbor, friend or relative. Take the phone and make a difference in someone’s life, ”said Susan Herman, Director of the Office of the Mayor of ThriveNYC.
Those wishing to take part in the Friendly Visits program can call DFTA Aging Connect to 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469).