Special to TheHUB – Like a strange sequel to the movie, Florida’s boomers have been acting out their own version of “Home Alone” since the pandemic began.
Although for most it’s been a temporary state, many people lament they have experienced far too much time in isolation during the COVID-19 crisis.
A little solitude is good for us all. But stretch it out to a pandemic-long period, and isolation can quickly lead to depression, especially for those with disabilities or long-term health issues.
“People, particularly seniors, have been extremely lonely,” says the national founder of the Your CBD Store franchise Rachael Quinn, who owns and operates four Florida-based Your CBD Stores.
The entrepreneur, who spent four years battling an auto-immune disorder (Crohn’s disease), has a big heart for those in similar circumstances.
“It’s easy to feel alone and isolated fighting a debilitating health issue in the best of times,” says Quinn. “Add in the pandemic, you’ve got epic challenges.”
And it’s that tipping point that has Quinn as well as leading health experts concerned.
As communities begin to gradually loosen restrictions and reopen, it will become easier and easier to forget those left behind, says the entrepreneur, who recognizes that things are changing and getting better for most, but not for all.
Particularly in Florida, which is home to a high concentration of seniors and at-risk populations.
More than 33% of adults 45 and older said in surveys that they felt lonely prior to the pandemic. Among those 65 years-of-age plus, 25% are considered socially isolated, according to a report compiled by the National Academies of Sciences.
Heap on pandemic-related isolation and depression, and increases in cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes cases are sure to follow, according to health experts, who point to evidence that depression significantly increases risks for these cardiometabolic diseases.
An enormous wave of death and disability from chronic and cardiometabolic diseases may come down with the force of a post-pandemic tsunami, warns Dr. Robert M. Califf the former FDA commissioner and head of strategy and policy for Verily Life Sciences and Google Health in an article published in the journal Circulation.
Califf worries that the pandemic’s extended isolation periods may contribute to a seismic leap in undiagnosed depressive states within vulnerable populations, which can be more complex and resistant to treatment among those most at-risk.
Leaders like Quinn hope that it’s not too late to halt the transition from temporary bouts of sadness or depression to more permanent states.
The tireless health-and-wellness advocate has been working hard throughout the pandemic and related recovery period to continue to build and buoy hope — the antithesis of depression.
“My dad was among the millions of seniors across America who were not able to see, interact or even hug family members,” says Quinn. “Although he has health issues, his loneliness was among the things we worried about most. For seniors, family connections are critically important. When they are lost, they tend to deteriorate quickly,” says Quinn.
That knowledge was a part of what drove Quinn to action.
During the early months of the pandemic, Quinn started calling at-risk customers just to “check-in” and see how they were doing.
“People were so grateful for the contact and concern,” says Quinn, who quickly recruited employee volunteers and others to the calling campaign, which grew to include “I care” cards and small personal care packages, in addition to free shipping or delivery.
“Whether contact comes in the form of a phone call, a small personal hand sanitizer, full-sized product, it didn’t matter,” says Quinn. “People just appreciate knowing that someone is actually thinking of and concerned about them.”
Your CBD Store multi-unit owner Lauren Beno says although many Floridians are now fully vaccinated and able to socialize more safely, there are still a significant number of people who are not able to enjoy the same level of post-pandemic freedom due to personal health concerns.
“Left unchecked, the lonely are at even greater risk of falling into depression during our post pandemic recovery,” says Beno.
Beno bears witness of the profound impact even the smallest connection has on the life of someone contending with a chronic health issue.
“It’s transformative,” says Beno. “Although my calls are meant to support and inspire others, I quickly discovered that they had an equal, if not greater, impact on me.”
It’s that knowledge that inspired her to double-down on her at-risk support efforts amidst preparations of the upcoming events like the June 19 Grand Opening events of the Your CBD Store-Cortez.
Senior Discount Days and educational events will occur online and in-store in order to allow at-risk participants to take part in Grand Opening activities, giveaways and on-going get-togethers and educational events, according to Beno.
Many Your CBD Store business owners supported similar pandemic-related outreach campaigns. Together with Quinn and Beno, they connected with millions of consumers throughout the pandemic. The calls provided a welcome point of contact and led to new found friendships, according to owners.
“Just one small act can profoundly impact the life of another,” says Beno. “And right now, everything we do matters more to those isolated and at-risk. Someone’s waiting to hear from you. Let’s let them know that they’ve not been forgotten.”
Editor’s note: Readers can click here to locate a Your CBD Store in their neighborhood or get information on its franchise opportunity.
The newest Your CBD Store – Cortez is located at 6676 Cortez Road at 66th Street in the Anna Maria Oyster Bar shopping center. For additional information call (941) 254-4510 or visit their facebook page.
Your CBD Store – Bradenton is located at 2723 Manatee Avenue. Call (941) 226.1230 or visit their facebook page for more information.