We will always remember 2020 as an unpredictable year. The year has caused us to think about the changes we need to make in our personal lives, businesses, and communities. Among these is maintaining a constant, human connection. Research shows social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and improve our immune systems.
During these challenging times, do not forget to check on those that live alone. Not everyone who lives alone is lonely, but those who are can become compromised, affecting their physical and mental health.
Don Davis lives alone. He is a father of three and a bilateral lower leg amputee. Almost 20 years ago, Don underwent an amputation on one leg. Two days later, he had his other leg removed. Both surgeries were due to peripheral vascular disease. Nine years later he moved from Pennsylvania to the upstate of South Carolina. He has been a certified peer mentor for amputees for 19 years. For the last five years, Don has been a peer mentor at Spartanburg Rehabilitation Institute. He does a great job keeping himself busy and supporting the community. He is the co-chair for the Spartanburg Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities and executive director of the St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church food pantry.
When he is not serving others, Don makes soap and tends to his garden. He has built a two-tier system which includes a five-gallon bucket stand and PVC pipes for watering. This is all maintained from his wheelchair. His garden is full of broccoli, kale, beets, collards, eggplant, Brussel sprouts, and tomatoes.
Don’s indoor activity is making soap. He uses goats’ milk and shea butter. The fragrances include lemon, orange, and lavender. He is a great example of motivation and willingness!
Social isolation and loneliness as a social determinant of health existed before COVID-19, but the pandemic has exaggerated it. The holiday season can be a lonely time, some people wish they could be with family, but can’t. Let’s keep this holiday season full of joy and love. Stay connected through virtual celebrations and use all safety precautions in person. The most important thing is staying connected!