Since I’ve volunteered in the senior community, I’ve become much more aware of the issues they, ahem, we face as we enter this phase of life. One of them is loneliness.
The Foundation Assisting Seniors helps individuals remain in their homes for as long as possible. It’s a universal desire, but with that comes the possibility that we’ll be living in that house by ourselves. The quiet solitude may suit some personalities, but others crave the interaction with other human beings.
The subject jumped to the forefront again last week as I worked out in the fitness center of my community center. A group of people walked around the track, and I heard one of them say, “I don’t like to walk too fast, as it’s too hard to talk to people.” It wasn’t just the cardio workout they wanted; it was the chance to socialize that brought them out of their homes.
Moments later a woman joined me on the floor where we grunted our way through weight lifting and stretches. I greeted her with a cheery “good morning,” and she commented that it was so nice to get out of the house and talk to someone. She wasn’t much of an exerciser, she explained, but the social benefits drove her to the gym.
There are numerous ways to engage with others by venturing outside the walls of one’s home and checking out resources.
Humana, for example, offers neighborhood centers around the country. Events, exercise classes, speakers, and more offer a chance for us to tend to our mental and physical wellbeing while enjoying the company of others in the same position. Many of the programs are at no cost. Visit https://www.humana.com/humana-neighborhood-centers to find a center near you.
Senior centers offer similar events and places to gather. In Henderson, Nevada, for example the Heritage Park Senior Facility and its cousins have nice facilities—including pools in some—and provide information about senior resources in the area. You can find out more at https://cityofhenderson.com/henderson-happenings/facilities/recreation-centers/heritage-park-senior-facility/senior-services.
Churches also host meals, events, Bible studies and book clubs. New Song Church in Henderson introduced Optics: Shining a Light on the Senior Community two years ago and hosts senior-friendly learning forums, social events, and tours of local senior facilities. Check this website for a calendar of events: https://www.newsonganthem.com/optics-senior-ministry/
At one recent social event that I coordinated, an individual told me how nice it was to be able to have lunch with someone other than herself. That comment spoke volumes to me. Yes, being in my own home is where i want to stay as I advance in age. However, staying within the four walls can be detrimental to your health. According to GreatSeniorLiving.com, Medicare spends $134 more each month for a person who is lonely versus another who is engaged socially. If mobility is an issue, remember The Foundation provides durable medical equipment such as walkers, canes, and scooters to help you get around.
The issue is not only in our backyards, but on a worldwide basis. In fact, the UK appointed a Minister of Loneliness to address the problem. (https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org)
What can you do? Care for yourself by reaching out to organizations like the ones mentioned above and take advantage of their events and programs. In fact, take a friend or a neighbor with you. Volunteer, if you’re able, to help those who can’t drive themselves to these events.
Watch The Foundation’s website at www.foundationassistingseniors.org and Facebook page for new offerings in 2020. Our annual Gala is on March 28, and we’d love to see you there enjoying the company of others and our special entertainer, Mark OToole. For more information, click on the Events tab on the Foundation website or call our office at 725-244-4200.