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Combatting loneliness during the holidays, and the rest of the year

“We’re just family, there isn’t any reason why not to be family”
“We’re just family, there isn’t any reason why not to be family”
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 7:18 PM MST
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JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Loneliness is an issue that can affect anyone, and the holidays can aggravate some of these symptoms, experts say.

Young adults feel these symptoms the most, with over 60% of those aged 18-25 having isolated feelings, according to a study. About a quarter of people aged 65 and up also qualify as socially isolated.

So what are some ways to combat these issues?

On a fine Thursday, KMVT sat down with a group of friends at the Jerome Senior Citizen Center.

Anne Walgamott comes to the center just about every day. “Well, otherwise I’d be sitting at home alone, I live alone, I’m a widow,” Walgamott said.

According to Janet Miller, who works for the Idaho Commission on Aging, Walgamott and her friends are doing the right things.

“If you’re feeling lonely, there’s a lot of things you can do for yourself, reach out to people, volunteer, join a support group, adopt a pet,” Miller said.

According to Miller, loneliness can not only lead to an increase in emotional health issues but also physical issues like dementia risk and obesity.

“Feeling lonely is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day,” Miller said.

But, there are no feelings like those in this Jerome Senior Center.

“This is a place to come, it’s very homey, we got all your friends here and if they aren’t here, they better be,” said Walgamott.

“We’re just family, there isn’t any reason why not to be family,” said Michelle Startt, who has been hanging around the Center for around eight years.

It doesn’t have to be a whole day affair either, small acts can make a big impact.

“Getting to our age, we need to help each other out, sometimes just a hug or a smile, when she (Walgamott) comes in and smiles it makes my whole day,” Startt said.

The center in Jerome has been open since January without experiencing any hiccups.

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