Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Solving the Epidemic of Loneliness – One Person at a Time

Every day we are surrounded by stories of personal transformation and triumph. Most times we don’t even know it is taking place. It could be a person sitting or standing right next to us, or a neighbor on the street who we overlook. Powerful transformations start with the overwhelming process of looking at your life, taking a systematic approach to meeting your needs, healing your emotional wounds, and bringing balance back into your life.

Our ReConnect Program does just that. It offers a systematic approach to providing vital resources to older and disabled adults who want to take control of their lives and reconnect with the community – helping treat depression, isolation, and anxiety. One story of personal triumph and transformation is about Monica, a 69-year old Hispanic woman who needed our help. At the time of enrollment, she was struggling with severe depression, mainly due to on-going health issues. Yet, Monica* wanted to participate in activities to increase her physical activity, become more occupied, and improve her health management skills.

She told us that her only social support was her husband and a son. They were gone for long hours daily due to work commitments, leaving her isolated and alone. Monica wanted to attend activities outside of the house, support groups and literacy classes. However, she was challenged by obstacles such as health issues from chronic diabetes that made it hard to walk, coupled with a lack of transportation and a lack of knowledge about community resources which impacted her ability to participate.

Monica was enrolled in the ReConnect Program and received her needs assessment; afterward, we began referring her to an array of services within the Council and beyond. Monica focused on improving her vision and hearing loss, and we identified referrals for new glasses and a new hearing aid. She wanted to understand the food and health resources available to her in the community and began attending multiple health education classes, weekly water aerobics, and balance & fitness classes. Her self-confidence rose with each lesson.

A big priority for Monica was to understand her chronic disease and not become a victim of it. Education is empowering – it can help people in their ability to control their symptoms and learn how their health problems affect their lives. Monica has now completed a Diabetes Chronic Disease Self-Management Workshop to help manage her symptoms, improve her quality of life, and reduce healthcare costs.

Mobility was still a concern for Monica despite the improvement in her health. Diabetes had left her legs and feet in pain for the last 26 years and walking was hard. We requested and received a grant for adaptive equipment for diabetic footwear to help with her condition. Monica’s Case Manager also arranged transportation for medical appointments, improving her overall mobility and increasing her socialization opportunities.

Monica’s transformation is taking time, but every great personal transformation does. She is no longer confined to her bedroom alone and in pain, unsure of herself and her surroundings. Today Monica is creating her independence, she is actively involved within the community and empowered to meet new people and try new things.

“To me, ReConnect means everything. You have taught me a lot of things I didn’t know of and I’ve gone to visit new places I had never been to. From my team of doctors, nurses, and the ReConnect Angels – you have saved me from the deep hole I had been sinking into. I feel like a human again. I thought there was no solution or fix to my chronic illness but I know there is help out there because you have shown me. Thank you so much!”

The Council on Aging – Southern California wants you and your loved ones to know, that you are not alone. We are here to help. We care. We can make our community a better place, and we can protect the lives of older and disabled adults together.

If you found this story inspiring, please consider making a donation to help the Council on Aging – Southern California continue to help seniors like Monica and the many more in our community who need our support.

Thank you.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.