PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Have you called your grandparents or parents lately? No matter how busy we are, we can agree a simple phone call can go a long way. And it could be vital for older generations.
According to AARP a third of adults ages 45 and older say they feel lonely. Combating this problem is the mission of an annual summit happening right now in Maine's largest city.
Now in its second year, The Connectivity Summit on Rural Aging is happening Tuesday through Thursday. It's a time to raise awareness about programs like SilverSneakers, that help seniors socialize and get in shape at the same time.
"Loneliness is the new chronic condition of the 21st century. Its toxic effects is equivalent to the smoking of 15 cigarettes per day," said Donato Tramuto, CEO of Tivity Health.
It's an issue not just in Maine and the nation, but across the pond too. In January Britain created a Minister for Loneliness to tackle modern public health problems associated with social isolation. But how do we help Mainers, particularly those who live in rural areas?
They are user friendly social media apps to keep grandparents, parents, and kids all connected; sharing videos, photos, and messages within private "circles."
"It's named after my mom, Lois," said Brett Harnett, creator of HiLois.
HiLois is still in beta, but you can sign up now.
"A few people in your circle, your family, and then mom or dad in the middle, we call them the VIP," Harnett added.
For Maine seniors like Priscilla Farrell, SilverSneakers is one way to feel better. She says volunteering helps too.
"Loneliness leaves you when you service others," she said.