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[YOU'RE NOT ALONE] New York tackles social isolation with Dr. Ruth

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has released a public service announcement (PSA) on loneliness over the holidays in partnership with 95-year-old  Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the state’s recently-appointed loneliness ambassador. In the PSA, 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.

“The loneliness epidemic is real, causing negative health impacts for seniors, children and New Yorkers of all ages," Hochul said. "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.”

Social isolation has been associated with an approximately 50% increased risk of developing dementia, while poor social relationships– characterized by social isolation or loneliness– have been associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke, according to a recent study by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

New York State is now taking steps to develop age-friendly communities and build a more robust system of mental health care to combat loneliness and related issues. Last year, Hochul signed an executive order to create the state's first-ever “Master Plan for Aging” to help ensure older New Yorkers can live healthy, fulfilling lives while aging with dignity and independence.

The New York State Office for the Aging is now working with the state Department of Health to develop the master plan, which will recommend age-friendly policies to influence community development, transportation, and other supports needed to allow all New Yorkers to participate socially as they age.

To watch the loneliness PSA, click here

To watch an interview between Hochul and Dr. Westheimer, click here

To download the National Academies study on social isolation in older adults, click here

To learn more about the Master Plan for Aging, click here

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