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Help for New Yorkers Struggling With Loneliness During Holidays


A public service announcement on loneliness during the holiday season has been released by the state in partnership with Dr. Ruth Westheimer, New York’s recently appointed honorary Ambassador to Loneliness. In the Public Service Announcement, which will be posted on social media sites, Governor Hochul and Dr. Westheimer discuss tips for individuals experiencing social isolation and urge all New Yorkers to check on friends, neighbors, and loved ones who may be spending the holidays alone.

“This holiday season, let’s recommit ourselves to ending the loneliness epidemic in New York,” Governor Hochul said. “The loneliness epidemic is real, causing negative health impacts for seniors, children, and New Yorkers of all ages. We have many resources available for those who may struggle with social isolation, and together with my friend Ambassador Ruth we’ll make sure New Yorkers know they have somewhere to turn.”

More than a third of adults 45 or older experience loneliness, with nearly a quarter of adults 65 or older considered socially isolated, a recent study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found. Loneliness is defined as the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact, while social isolation refers to a lack of social connections.

Social isolation significantly increased the risk of premature death from all causes, the study found, rivaling the risk posed by other detrimental health conditions or behaviors, including smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Social isolation has been associated with an approximately 50 percent increased risk of developing dementia, while poor social relationships– characterized by social isolation or loneliness– have been associated with a 29 percent increased risk of heart disease and a 32 percent increased risk of stroke.

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