Albany, NY – WMHT Public Media, a multichannel public communications organization serving Eastern New York and Western New England, today announced its participation in a statewide initiative designed to address social isolation among older adults. Aging Together in New York, a collaboration between all nine PBS Member Stations across the state and the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), will feature a premiere week of programming from Monday, May 15 to Sunday, May 21 to launch the ongoing effort.
Aging Together in New York will draw attention to the value of older adults in our communities and provide resources to help seniors build resilience and combat social isolation. Together with public broadcasters throughout New York, WMHT will reach older adults on broadcast television and radio, online, and at in-person events with new documentaries, short films, and other engaging content.
“There is a need to support the mental health and overall wellbeing of older adults across New York,” said Anthony V. Hayes, President and CEO of WMHT Public Media. “While loneliness presents a significant threat to the health of our communities, there are resources that can help. Through this unique initiative, WMHT, our public media partners, and NYSOFA will provide older adults and their loved ones with stories that reflect the lived experience across New York state, and share examples of connection that benefit us all.”
WMHT will air and stream several programs as part of the Aging Together in New York initiative, including:
Young At Heart 40th Anniversary Special
Thursday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. | Friday, May 19 at 5 p.m.
Fifteen years ago, PBS stations aired a wildly popular documentary about a chorus composed entirely of singers and musicians over the age of 70. This new one-hour concert, filmed last November, revisits the chorus for its 40th Anniversary Special.
New York Now
Friday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m.
NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen will join the weekly public affairs program, produced by WMHT and airing statewide, to discuss New York’s forthcoming Master Plan for Aging and share local community resources available to older people.
Short story series
Air dates/times TBA
WMHT will create a ten-part series of short videos highlighting the lived experience of older adults, and sharing ideas and resources for reducing isolation and strengthening community. Additional content will be shared online at wmht.org/agingtogether.
Public media organizations will continue to examine the issue and share critical resources to address social isolation and loneliness as the effort continues until the end of the year.
New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said, “NYSOFA is pleased to work with PBS stations across New York State to help shine a light on the often-hidden problem of social isolation. The health effects of social isolation are equivalent to smoking almost a pack of cigarettes daily, and the added stress of feeling alone increases heart disease and even earlier onset of dementia. Thankfully there are many resources available to help, including local assistance through offices for the aging and statewide initiatives developed by NYSOFA to connect older adults through technology and other innovations. I look forward to joining PBS in the conversation about these important solutions."
New York has the nation’s fourth-largest population of older people, with 3.2 million individuals – about 16 percent of the population – over the age of 65. The state's population of those over the age of 60 is projected to grow to 5.3 million by 2030, with those over 80 exceeding 1.2 million.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread social isolation and loneliness among older adults, who were advised to limit their contact with others, especially if they had underlying health conditions that made them more vulnerable to severe illness. As a result, many gave up activities, and family members and friends were hesitant to visit. Even with widespread vaccinations and most organizations back to “normal,” the lingering effects of years of social isolation have taken a toll on our communities.
About WMHT Public Media
Serving Eastern New York and Western New England, WMHT Public Media is the only locally owned, nonprofit, multichannel public communications organization that reaches beyond the traditional broadcasting model to act as a leader by convening arts, culture, learning and civic interests. WMHT focuses on Community, Culture and Connections by providing entertainment, enrichment and engagement through television, radio, digital media, and educational services. Services include WMHT-DT (17.1), WMHT-Create (17.2), WMHT-
World (17.3), WMHT PBS Kids (17.4), WMHT-FM 89.1 & WRHV-FM 88.7 (classical public radio), and WEXT Radio 97.7/106.1 (AAA public radio). WMHT also operates RISE, a radio reading service for the blind and print disabled.
About the New York State Office for the Aging
The New York State Office for the Aging improves access to, and availability of, appropriate and cost-effective non-medical support services for older individuals to maximize their ability to age in their community and avoid higher levels of care and publicly financed care. NYSOFA achieves this through a network of 59 area agencies on aging. More information at: https://aging.ny.gov/