Usually, we associate social isolation with older adults; however, it affects all ages, especially now that many jobs have opted for remote work, like Laura. Laura is an accountant working for an independent firm for 11 years. Although her work is mainly on the computer, she enjoys going to the office to socialize with her nine coworkers and have coffee and lunch together. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the company, like many others, had to switch to virtual work from home. After the lockdown ended, the company continued working remotely without returning to the office.

One day, Laura realized that she was always alone during the day because her family was at work or school. She missed her coworkers. But more importantly, she noticed that since the pandemic and working from home, she avoided activities with people around. For example, she stopped going to the gym and preferred to exercise in her backyard. She only went out to dinner or lunch with friends if there were few people. She also stopped visiting large shopping centers.

One day, she saw in the newspaper and on television the Triple-S Foundation’s “Socializing is Healthy” campaign. The campaign explained the importance of social connections for physical health and all the harm that isolation causes. “Socializing is Healthy” also provided some indicators to identify if you or a family member were experiencing isolation or loneliness.

Laura realized that she suffered from social isolation. Not from loneliness, as she enjoys the company of her husband and daughter and does not feel alone. But at 49 years old, she had become an isolated person. “Socializing is Healthy” explains that social isolation is the absence of connection with other human beings and affects all ages, from children and teenagers to adults. It is mainly associated with older adults because they tend to live alone, are retired, or have fewer social activities. However, loneliness and isolation affect everyone equally in Puerto Rico and worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation.

Laura gradually took steps to avoid social isolation. She started by resuming some activities she used to enjoy, such as going to the gym, even at less crowded times. Laura went out to dinner or lunch with friends more often, even with a few people, but to places with different people around. She gradually forced herself to do in-person errands, for example, picking up medicine at the pharmacy in person instead of using the drive-thru. These small steps helped Laura gradually overcome her isolation and enjoy the company of others again.