Valley Coalition Studies Loneliness

Feb 10, 2020

By: Tribune Chronicle

They are calling a new effort the Mahoning Valley Social Isolation and Loneliness Initiative “We Thrive Together.”

“It is so exciting to collaborate together to change the life of our neighbors,” said Steve Pelton, president of hChoices, a Youngstown Business Incubator portfolio company focused on helping individuals achieve optimal wellness.

SCOPE Senior Centers, Direction Home of Eastern Ohio, Oak Street Health, Shepherd of the Valley, Mahoning Valley Senior Centers, Mahoning Valley Churches, Ohio Living, and the Mahoning Valley Public Libraries and hChoices have partnered to make We Thrive Together a reality.

“We will be offering free programming for adults and using technology to engage them,” Pelton said. “They will be able to participate at home and join us in person at fun social events.”

“The goal is to engage people where they are at and motivate them to take advantage of some of the great programming that exists at our partner locations. We know connecting to technology isn’t the best for socialization, but it is a start. We want to make sure everyone knows what resources are available.”

The partnership noted these statistics:

  • Nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults are sometimes or always feeling alone or left out;
  • More than 8 million adults 50 and older are affected by isolation;
  • Loneliness is as bad for one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day;
  • Lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression.

We Thrive Together starts this month.

“All partners are on board and the platform is ready,” Pelton said.

Its first big event will be the Winter Social 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Youngstown State University in the Kilcawley Center Chestnut Room. The goal is to bring together people 50 and older and individuals with developmental disabilities, he said.

SCOPE Senior Centers “are proud partner with hChoices and Steve Pelton to provide services to our seniors who are lonely,” said Mike Wilson, executive director of SCOPE. “The success that hChoices had in Lake County gives us the opportunity to go after grants and sponsors here in the Mahoning Valley.”

Dr. Daniel Van Dussen, head of the gerontology department at Youngstown State University said, “Social Isolation is a significant health risk in our area. Events such as We Thrive Together seek to give opportunities to meet new people and see our campus. Youngstown State University’s Gerontology and Long Term Care Administration programs along with the Gerontology Student Organization are happy to partner with this event.”

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