Source: Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness
The Behavioral Wellness Community Wellness Team is helping to keep seniors connected through the holidays. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors have been among the most vulnerable of groups. Not only for physical health reasons, but also for their mental health. Many studies report that loneliness among older adults has increased significantly over the past year.
In addition to the current stressors of living life in a pandemic, and the social isolation being experienced by older adults, many older adults may also be living in a senior living environment which is not permitting family visitors even if socially distanced. Loneliness and social isolation for older adults have a deep emotional impact, sometimes leading to depression and anxiety and can even have a significant impact on their physical health.
“Holidays can be lonely times of the year for older adults who may not live near their families” says Suzanne Grimmesey, MFT, Santa Barbra County Department of Behavioral Wellness. Holidays also carry memories and feel like a time when family should be around. And this year, many will not be surrounded by family as they normally would be, due to the safety considerations aimed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Grimmesey says “Not being able to look forward to time spent with family over the holidays can have a profound impact on the mental health of older adults who are already feeling isolated.”
The Behavioral Wellness Community Wellness Team has developed the Senior Bridge Program to provide support to older adults through the holiday season, and beyond. Those interested may call the Community Wellness Team at 805-364-2750 and sign up for just one call or for regular friendly phone calls from volunteers from Hospice of Santa Barbara. We truly are all in this together, and with that knowledge, we will get through this together. Let’s make sure nobody has to do this alone. If you know of an older adult who may benefit from connection by phone, please share this information.
To learn more about Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness please visit http://countyofsb.org/behavioral-wellness . For assistance with accessing Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness services call the 24/7 toll free Crisis Response and Services Access Line at (888) 868-1649.