Older Adult Using Tablet
December 21, 2023

NYSOFA Reminds Older New Yorkers of Free Virtual Classes As Winter Increases Isolation and Loneliness

NYSOFA Reminds Older New Yorkers of Free Virtual Classes As Winter Increases Isolation and Loneliness

The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) and the Association on Aging in New York (AgingNY) today remind older New Yorkers to take advantage of free access to the largest online learning and social engagement platform specifically for older adults through the state’s partnership with GetSetUp. The platform provides engaging, interactive, and completely free classes for residents aged 50 and older and provides an opportunity for those individuals to teach courses on the platform and receive compensation – a great way to stay connected during the winter months and share your expertise.   

NYSOFA invites all New York residents over 50 to try this powerful digital platform, which offers classes on topics like navigating tech devices, virtual events, health and wellness and more. The platform is available on the New York partnership page at https://www.getsetup.io/partner/nystate.

NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said, “While we encourage older adults to stay as active as possible throughout the year, winter weather and shorter days can sometimes make it harder get out for social activities and recreation. Virtual platforms like GetSetUp are a vital tool in fighting the loneliness epidemic that has a serious impact on physical and mental health across generations. I encourage older adults to explore GetSetUp’s offerings in an effort to learn, stay engaged and make new friends.” 

Social isolation – lack of meaningful contacts with others – costs the Medicare program $6.7 billion in additional spending every year. Isolation is also a clear risk factor for illness, depression, high blood pressure and is a risk factor for dementia as well as death. Spending on the health consequences of social isolation is comparable to arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes – the public health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes daily.  

New York State has taken many steps to address this issue across agencies, programs and services. To help promote these initiatives, including those provided by NYSOFA, Governor Kathy Hochul recently appointed Dr. Ruth Westheimer as the state’s Honorary Ambassador to Loneliness, an historic announcement drawing attention to the health and mental health risks associated with the epidemic of loneliness, as designated in a May 2023 advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General. Learn more about NYSOFA’s many initiatives to combat social isolation on our Tools and Innovations webpage. 

More about GetSetUp Classes
Research from the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) has shown that mental activity can be as critical as physical fitness in maintaining cognitive health.  With this goal in mind, the GetSetUp course library includes diverse classes, providing sessions that range from smartphone mastery to holiday cooking, painting, and virtual travel to help New York’s older adults stay as active as ever during the winter months. There are over 4,000 classes that are available around the clock. The platform is uniquely tailored to meet the needs of older adults, offering an accessible interface for learning, sharing, and interaction. Free access to GetSetUp classes in New York State is available through a package of provisions in the New York State Budget to address social isolation through NYSOFA programs and services. 

Area Agencies on Aging, community partners, and not-for-profits are encouraged to share GetSetUp’s class schedule with the public to help promote this free online resource in all communities throughout New York State. NYSOFA and GetSetUp offer several promotional resources, including information and instructions on how to embed class information on your organization’s website. For further information and instructions on these capabilities, organizations can contact NYSOFA’s communications team at [email protected].  

AgingNY Executive Director Rebecca Preve said, “The Association on Aging in New York is thrilled to continue our partnership with GetSetUp. As technology access continues to expand, the platform allows individuals to experience a diverse array of programs spanning many languages and content topics. Additionally, the platform allows real-time virtual interaction that reduces social isolation and loneliness, and encourages networking and lifelong learning opportunities.” 

President and Co-Founder of GetSetUp Lawrence Kosick said, "By New York State offering these classes at no cost to their older adults, we're not just removing barriers; we're opening doors to new possibilities. It's a campaign against loneliness, an invitation to growth, and a testament to the unyielding spirit of the New York community. GetSetUp classes are a step away from isolation and a step towards community. Our learners often share how our platform acts as a lifeline, providing a sense of belonging and community that is vital for health and happiness."

About the New York State Office for the Aging
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) continuously works to help the state’s 4.6 million older adults be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs, and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them. Stay connected—visit the NYSOFA Facebook page; follow @NYSAGING on X or visit aging.ny.gov.

About GetSetUp 
GetSetUp is on a mission to help those over 55 learn new skills, connect with others and unlock new life experiences. The social learning platform helps over 4.6 million older adults in 160 countries stay mentally and physically fit, creates economic opportunities through jobs and reskilling, and provides a community where people find meaning and purpose by sharing their knowledge and passions and forming new connections. Classes are taught by older adults on a highly interactive, custom-built video platform where older adults can connect during and in between classes. Classes are taught in English, Spanish, Hindi, and Mandarin. Learn more at https://www.getsetup.org.

About the Association on Aging in New York
The Association on Aging in New York (AgingNY) supports and advocates for New York’s mostly county-based Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and works collaboratively with a network of organizations that exist to promote independence, preserve dignity, and provide support for residents of New York State as they age. For more information, follow us on Facebook, visit www.agingny.org or call (518) 449-7080.