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Upside: Antidote to loneliness

LUCKY are you if you drive, have someone who can drive you around, or if you are registered with on-demand transportation programs provided by your city or private service agencies.  That’s your ticket to mobility, the freedom to rise and shine, go out and have some fun.

If you  live in the City of San Mateo you have Get Around (650-522-7490) and in Pacifica there’s Connect A Ride (650-738-7350).  Peninsula Jewish Community Center Get Up & Go (650-378-2750), is a free service  with volunteers doing the driving.  Each program has its parameters and fares.  Call for eligibility requirements and more information.

Peninsula Family Service program Got Wheels (650-403-4300 Ext. 4329) is for Daly City, Colma, Brisbane, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Millbrae, Burlingame, Hillsborough, Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Moss Beach and Montara residents 70 years and older. Registration is closed at this time.

You could say transportation programs is a cure for loneliness because it gives access to mobility and therefore social interaction.

Socializing – the act of spending time with fellow humans be they family, friends, co-workers – even strangers – enhances our lives.  Remember: Strangers are friends waiting to be made.  Social engagement gives us a sense of purpose and belonging, builds understanding and empathy, allows opportunity to help, and get help. 

There’s nothing like a smile or a hug to greet you.  Transportation, after all, is an antidote to what US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called the “epidemic of loneliness” in his May letter endorsing the “healing effects of social connections and community.”

(See https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/surgeon-general-social-connection-advisory.pdf)

He said:  “Each of us can start now, in our own lives, by strengthening our connections and relationships. Our individual relationships are an untapped resource—a source of healing hiding in plain sight. They can help us live healthier, more productive, and more fulfilled lives. Answer that phone call from a friend. Make time to share a meal. Listen without the distraction of your phone. Perform an act of service. Express yourself authentically. The keys to human connection are simple, but extraordinarily powerful.”

Murthy endorsed social connection that promotes lifestyle behaviors, such as:

ü taking medication

ü seeing the doctor

ü getting exercise

ü eating balanced meals                                                     

ü learning a hobby

ü sleeping well and

ü  avoiding risky habits like smoking.

In contrast, he said, social disconnection results in isolation and loneliness and can lead to depression and anxiety.  People who are less socially connected may have increased susceptibility and weaker immune responses when they are exposed to infectious diseases.

Indeed, mobility improves our quality of life.  To request a Senior Mobility Guide call Samtrans 1-800-660-4287.

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PNews Today Executive Editor Cherie Querol Moreno is Got Wheels! program manager.