Loneliness is a serious problem that can affect the physical and mental health of many older people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, community members have faced increased social isolation. As communities begin to return to social gatherings, many may still feel hesitant or feel comfortable being alone. To help seniors struggling with loneliness, MyMichigan Health is offering a free, five-week virtual series focusing on loneliness and social connections called “Bridge to Belonging.” The show will take place on Tuesdays, starting November 15, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., via Zoom.
“Humans are, by nature, social creatures,” said Meghan Dahl, LMSW, behavioral health supervisor at MyMichigan Medical Center Midland. “Some are disconnected because of the loss of a spouse, or some retire and lose the social support they had at work. Loneliness is a real issue that shouldn’t be ignored.
Social isolation and loneliness have also been linked to several negative health effects, including cognitive decline, depression, and even heart disease.
“Loneliness is worse for your health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day,” Dahl continued. “It can be just as harmful to your health as obesity and lack of exercise. Fortunately, there are many strategies one can learn and practice to lessen feelings of loneliness and help to feel more connected and positive about life. ”
Over the course of the five-week program, several topics will be covered, including: increasing positive behaviors, tackling negative thoughts, tackling social anxiety, relaxation strategies, and how to put these ideas into practice. while adapting to post-pandemic lifestyle changes.
The program is open to anyone interested in learning more about tackling loneliness, whether for themselves or a loved one. All program materials and login information will be mailed to registrants prior to the first meeting. Participants will join the Zoom meeting from their smartphone, computer, tablet or other device with an internet connection. Participants can also listen to the session using their phone.
Registration is required for this free program and is open until November 10. Sign up at mymichigan.org/bridge. Call MyMichigan Health at 800-999-3199.