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New program helps senior citizens cope with loneliness during coronavirus pandemic

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 7:42 PM EST
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - Since the coronavirus pandemic started a year ago, social isolation has been one of the biggest challenges.

MidMichigan Health is hoping to help senior citizens struggling with loneliness during the pandemic. Doctors say that loneliness can effect both emotional and physical health.

“We usually ask about exercise, your eating, do you smoke. But loneliness is actually something we’ve been missing for years,” said Dr. Meghan Dahl of MidMichigan Health based in Midland.

She said a simple conversation can change everything.

“If we give people a little bit of hope that it can change, that we can maybe try something new, that might shift the situation for them. It can be a huge sense of relief for them,” Dahl said.

The MidMichigan Health virtual program Bridge to Belonging is aiming to explore the issue of loneliness by targeting topics that many in isolation are struggling with.

“It’s our perspective that’s often helpful and there’s a number of things we can do to change that,” Dahl said. “So for example, how we think about our situation. The thought part is very important. So we learn tools to shift our thinking.”

The five-week program for seniors will give them a chance to talk with others in the same situation and provide strategies that could help decrease the feeling of loneliness.

“They really enjoy talking to one another about their own experiences and sharing tips,” Dahl said. “Just getting validation that it is hard, but it’s not impossible. So finding that group that connection in the session has been really meaningful for people.”

The free sessions will take place on Tuesdays starting March 16 via Zoom, but a telephone option is available for anyone who lacks access to a computer or the internet. Click here for more information on how to register.

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