BATAVIA — The Genesee County Office for the Aging, will host a screening of “All the Lonely People,” a documentary featuring stories of resilience in the face of loneliness.
The screening is scheduled for 3 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Office for the Aging, 2 Bank St. The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending are asked to pre-register due to space limitations.
“All the Lonely People” places a human face on the hidden epidemic of chronic loneliness and social isolation. Built on hope, prominent researchers share the latest interventions for individuals and communities and leaves audiences feeling empowered and reconnected.
The Clowder Group, the creator of the documentary, the New York State Office for the Aging, the Association on Aging in New York, and local Offices for the Aging, are sponsoring 20 screenings of this documentary across New York State.
The Genesee County screening, the only one scheduled in the four-county GLOW region, will include a panel discussion with the filmmakers and Linda Chadderdon, program manager for Catholic Charities Home Visitation Program; Lynda Battaglia, director of Genesee County Mental Health and Community Services; Sara Vacin of GLOW OUT; Nate Varland, executive director of Batavia Housing Authority; and Courtney Iburi, AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP director from the Genesee County Office for the Aging.
The panel discussion is expected to provide a forum for community discussion about ways to develop resilience and implement strategies to combat social isolation.
“Being able to raise awareness and work together to make a difference for our community is very important,” said Diana Fox, director of the Genesee County Office for the Aging. “We recognize this issue impacts many in our community and we want to continue to be a part of the solution.”
In 2017, the U.S. Surgeon General declared social isolation to be a “global epidemic” — one that has only worsened in the COVID-19 health emergency. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, social isolation drives $6.7 billion in additional associated Medicare spending per year. The health consequences of loneliness and isolation are equivalent to smoking almost a pack of cigarettes daily. The added stress of feeling alone increases heart disease and even earlier onset of dementia.
“All The Lonely People” examines this epidemic on a deeply personal level. It follows a handful of people from different walks of life as they overcome social isolation and chronic loneliness, including New York residents Ari Rossen and Tony Westbrook, and people like Mary Hill, an 89-year-old caregiver, who faces isolation in the rural countryside of England.
New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said the documentary aligns with work that the state office and aging services are doing to combat social isolation and the film also provides a tool to raise awareness about the need for such work on many levels.
“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,” Olsen said. “This is an issue that existed prior to the pandemic. Yet the social disruptions of COVID-19 fundamentally exacerbated it – and, in many ways, helped open our eyes to the problem.”
Association on Aging In New York Executive Director Becky Preve said social isolation “has far-reaching, devastating impacts, and the aging services network has worked diligently to address this public health epidemic.”
Olsen said one of the goals of the screening is to “use the power of film to inspire conversation about one of the most pressing cultural issues of our time.”
“ ‘All the Lonely People’ is a thought-provoking documentary that not only looks at the issue across the age spectrum, but it also provides tools for local communities to address social isolation,” Preve said. “The opportunity to bring film screenings to all areas of the state will raise awareness of this critical issue, opening up conversation at the local level on effective ways to address the serious issues examined by this film.
For more information on how to reserve your seat for the Genesee County screening, contact Genesee County Office for the Aging at (585) 343-1611.