The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a wave of side effects for people of all ages. Diminishing human contact has become a key strategy in combatting the spread of the coronavirus, but social distancing and stay-at-home orders have also led to a vast increase in loneliness, the full effects of which have yet to be seen. Even before the pandemic, loneliness rates were high, with one report showing that one-third of U.S. adults aged 45 and up were lonely.
The questions is, how do we combat the loneliness epidemic, both during and after the pandemic? One solution may be friendly caller programs, which have been shown to improve loneliness, anxiety, and depression. The Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance created one such program early on in the pandemic, entitled "Phone Friends for Seniors", and the program continues to connect seniors to friendly volunteer callers today. Volunteers are matched with a senior and regularly call to check up on them, make sure they have access to everything they need (groceries, medical equipment, vaccines, etc.), and to simply have a nice chat.
Read the article on the loneliness epidemic and friendly caller programs here: "Loneliness is rampant. A simple call, or hug, may be a cure".