MOULTRIE, Ga. — Loneliness affects millions of senior citizens across the United States, impacting memory, physical well-being, mental health and even life expectancy, according to a study by the University of Michigan. This holiday season, three Moultrie retirement homes are seeking to ensure that no senior citizen goes lonely with help from the community.

The facilities, all managed by PruittHealth, are enlisting the help of the Colquitt County community to send holiday cards and letters to the local seniors in an effort to combat chronic loneliness.

“Our request is simple. We are asking the community to send handwritten, thoughtful messages to our wonderful residents. The cards do not need to be addressed to anyone specific, but rather, send a nice note to ‘Someone Special.’ We can’t wait to see what this community can do,” said Vickie Patterson, administrator of PruittHealth – Moultrie.

Chronic loneliness occurs when feelings of loneliness and social isolation go on for a long period of time. Symptoms include constant feelings of being alone, separated or divided from others, and an inability to connect on a deeper level. Some studies even suggest that there may be a link between loneliness and an increased risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“We have a number of weekly activities and outings that are designed to ensure our residents are engaging with others,” Patterson said. “At PruittHealth – Moultrie, we encourage our residents to socialize with one another, and families are often invited to join in on our activities.”

According to the University of Michigan study, women are more likely than men to report feeling a lack of companionship. In addition, people ages 50 to 64 mentioned that they felt socially isolated when compared with ages 65 to 80. If left unchecked, chronic loneliness can lead to depression, sleep disorders, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and substance abuse, among other things.

“This is the first year we are making this request of our community,” said Patterson. “The holidays are a very exciting time, but they can also be a very lonely time for some of our residents.”

Letters can be mailed to a PruittHealth establishment at Magnolia Manor, 3003 S. Veterans Pkwy., Moultrie, GA 31788; Moultrie, 233 Sunset Circle, Moultrie, GA 31768; and Sunrise, 2709 S. Main St., Moultrie, GA 31768.

“There is no deadline. We encourage the community to send letters now through the end of December,” said Patterson.

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