Social and Community Networks
Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by ourselves, or feeling disconnected from the world around us. It may become stronger over time, and it’s possible to feel lonely even when surrounded by those you cherish most. Loneliness can happen when we feel like we don’t have a sense of belonging, meaningful social engagement, or connection to networks like our neighbors or other friend groups. But it can also happen when we have full lives and are only missing some of those things, or even just one person. Loneliness is a common emotion, and it is likely that at some point in our lives and whatever our age we will experience it. Social isolation is when we’re physically separated from other people. Sometimes this occurs because of life situations, like recovering from surgery, having children who live far away, being busy taking care of someone we love, or the fact that getting older makes it too hard to drive. It can also occur when we lose groups of friends or loved ones, or if getting out of the house just seems like too much effort.
We all need the support of others to make us feel understood and to help us feel like we’re making an impact on the world. Without these bonds, it’s natural to feel defeated or frustrated. It can also be tempting to brush away these feelings because we think they’re silly. But please know that you’re not alone. Did you know that some version of loneliness impacts up to 43 percent of older adults? And remember, it can be caused by a wide range of issues, like grief or loss, the inability to be as active as you used to, friends moving away, children growing up, losing a pet, medical conditions or surgery, or retirement. These feelings of social isolation and loneliness, especially among seniors, can actually have a significant impact on health. For example, they can lead to a 32 percent increase in risk of stroke. We hope you find resources in this toolkit that can help.
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HVCCW is a diverse group of community based organizations united to address the social determinants of health through capacity building and collective action.
Hudson Valley Collective for Community Wellness
C/O Maternal Infant Services Network
10 Little Britain, Rd., Newburgh, NY 12550
Phone: (845) 561-3575
E-mail: [email protected]