MUSKEGON, MICH. - A Lakeshore agency is asking you to regularly call and visit the seniors you know.
The call to action is part of a national campaign to end social isolation and improve the heath of those individuals -- even a single visit every other week can have a significant positive impact.
It's why registered nurse Henriet Meyers delivered a few small gifts during the morning Tuesday, Nov. 29, to Gloria Wert's senior living apartment.
Meyer's short visit once a month breaks up the isolation that can creep into Wert's day-to-day.
"Their health can improve when they know a nurse is touching their life," said Meyers, who works for Senior Resources of West Michigan.
Lisa Tyler is the communications director for Senior Resources West Michigan. The agency is participating in a national campaign to reduce isolation and loneliness in older Americans. It can be successful if everyone in West Michigan makes regular visits and calls to the older adults they know.
"Don't assume that they have people that they can go to because a lot of times, they don't," Tyler said.
Several members of Wert's family live out-of-state. She considers herself lucky for a friendly nurse like Meyers who make regular visits. She's also thankful for visits from grandchildren.
But Wert knows other seniors who have far fewer visits.
"And that is sad," Wert said.
According to a report from the AARP Foundation, prolonged isolation in older Americans can equal a health risk of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Many communities, such as Muskegon, have centers where seniors can make connections. Those who can't get out need others to come in.
"So that that person does not have to be alone," Wert said.
December is a good month to begin building those connections.
Senior should also seek out programs that fit into their lives. In Muskegon, Oceana and Ottawa counties, a good place to start is by calling Senior Resources of West Michigan.
In Kent County, the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan offers numerous services to reduce social isolation for seniors.
(© 2016 WZZM)