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By OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett
The holiday season is a time filled with joy, laughter and the magic of the season. But this year, celebrating the holidays will be challenging for everyone, as we strive to keep COVID-19 at bay, while safely gathering with family and friends. This is especially true when it comes to our senior population and the most vulnerable. While COVID may change how we celebrate the holidays this year, it should not stop us from connecting with loved ones. That is why my colleagues and I on the Board of Supervisors are calling on residents to safely connect with their elderly neighbors this holiday season.
Happy Holidays Neighbor! is a public awareness micro-campaign targeted at raising awareness of the dangers related to senior isolation and suggesting ways everyday citizens can reach out and make a difference. No one should be alone during the holidays. The Happy Holidays Neighbor! micro-campaign connects seniors with local neighbors who can provide help and support.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, there are many public-health risks linked to social isolation and loneliness. With one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older considered to be socially isolated, this makes seniors more susceptible to increased risk of serious medical conditions, such as dementia and heart disease.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further cut off seniors from regular social engagement, as well as limit their ability to access needed food, supplies and medication. During the holiday period, seniors face further challenges related to gift buying, mailing packages and decorating their home exteriors.
The Happy Holidays Neighbor! public awareness micro-campaign suggests ways to connect and support seniors this holiday season in COVID-safe ways that focus on physical distancing but still maintain a social connection. It features a printable postcard that neighbors can fill out and send to local seniors, asking what assistance they need and providing the neighbor’s contact information.
Additionally, the micro-campaign provides information about County and local senior resources that are important during the holiday season. Lending a helping hand or sending a greeting card can make all the difference for someone who is home-bound or has been isolating due to COVID. It’s a great way to share the spirit of the holidays.
While the physical health of our seniors is critical, we cannot overlook the importance of mental health. The holidays are a time to come together to show how much we care for the health and well-being of our seniors. Please join us in bringing a little joy and laughter to our seniors during this challenging holiday season. Happy holidays!
Lisa Bartlett sits on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, representing the 5th District. She was reelected in 2018.