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“All The Lonely People” Film Premiers in Putnam County; Research Shows Loneliness Impacts Physical Health Equal to Smoking or Obesity

CARMEL, NY—Public viewing of a unique documentary will take place on Friday, October 21. The one-hour film entitled “All The Lonely People” presents stories of resilience in the face of loneliness. It chronicles a handful of individuals who overcame crippling social isolation over the past two years. The free-of-charge event starts at 1pm in the auditorium at the Bureau of Emergency Services, 110 Old Route 6 in Carmel, and will be followed by a live panel of the film’s producers and local experts, and an audience discussion. The documentary is being presented by Putnam County’s Office for Senior Resources, in cooperation with the Putnam County Department of Health and Putnam’s Bureau of Emergency Services. It is part of a statewide tour organized by the New York State Office for the Aging, the Association on Aging in New York, and local senior services agencies.  

“We have known for some time the negative effect loneliness can have on an individual’s health and well-being,” said Michael Cunningham, the director of the Office for Senior Resources in Putnam County. “These last few years have been challenging times for all residents, and I have seen it especially impact our seniors. We are hoping this film can bring a broader focus to the issue and point to new opportunities and solutions for building resilience. Audience participation in the panel discussion can bring new insights on the effects of isolation and I invite everyone who can to make time to attend and participate.” 

Even before the pandemic, Vivek Murthy, MD, the 19th and now the 21st U.S. Surgeon General, called social isolation a “global pandemic.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has called its damage equal to high blood pressure, smoking or obesity and the AARP Public Policy Institute estimates social isolation drives $6.7 billion in additional, associated Medicare spending per year. Some populations including older adults are more likely to experience loneliness and social isolation. But they are not alone—other groups are also vulnerable, including immigrants; LGBTQ populations; racial, ethnic and religious minorities; low-income, and other underserved groups.   

“Loneliness and social isolation clearly impact mental health. They present ethical challenges as well,” said Sara Servadio, Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health and Social Services in Putnam County. “We are seeing an increase in the incidence of mental health challenges as well as widespread difficulties accessing care as a result of the pandemic. We must focus all our energies on improving wellbeing and reducing the stigma that presents added challenges to seeking care that go beyond the availability of services.”   

In addition to putting a human face on this hidden epidemic of social isolation and chronic loneliness, the filmmakers also interviewed “loneliness experts,” including Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, and geriatrician Carla Perissinotto, MD, social isolation and loneliness researcher. 

After seeing the film over a year ago, Greg Olsen, Director of the New York State Office of the Aging, immediately saw its connection with the work of his organization. “I also saw this as a tool to raise awareness,” said Mr. Olsen. “…including a broader community reach, as isolation impacts people of all ages. The film examines an issue that profoundly affects older adults, but it also features people from all walks of life and age groups, showing the many ways that we are all touched by social isolation.”  

The New York State Office of the Aging has spearheaded efforts to bring this film and these important messages to multiple counties around the state throughout October and November 2022. The tour includes 20 locations from St. Lawrence County near Canada to Long Island. Carmel and Poughkeepsie are the two sites in the mid-Hudson Valley.  

All The Lonely People is from The Clowder Group, the social enterprise that created the critically acclaimed film Gen Silent. Joseph Applebaum, cofounder and producer of The Clowder Group describes his group as having given hundreds of communities, governments and professional organizations around the world the immersive experience that sparks change. Their events—films followed by discussions—have resulted in national policy change, community awareness and organizational growth.   

Register here for the free-event: https://AllTheLonelyPeoplePutnam.eventbrite.com 

The Putnam County Office for Senior Resources serves the seniors of Putnam County, providing senior center programs, nutritious lunches, transportation, home-delivered meals, recreation, and other services that address the social determinants of health and support seniors living at home as independently as possible. 

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