New Group Helping to Build Lasting Connections

You hear it before you even walk through the St. John’s Home auditorium doors. It is what Brad Klug was imagining when he started the Senior Life Group this October. He envisioned a program that would help elders get to know each other better and stimulate new, meaningful relationships. “Our elders need each other just as much as they need the care we provide for them,” explains Brad, a Spiritual Life Partner at St. John’s Home. “They need to make connections with each other that lead to friendships in which they can be supported and encouraged.”  

That sound you hear immediately is laughter and it prevails throughout the early part of a Senior Life Group meeting. Each session begins with an ice breaker question and answer exercise that often sparks humorous one-liners and spontaneous responses. Elders from throughout St. John’s Home sit in a circle along with staff members to engage in lively discussions before breaking into smaller groups for team building activities. The group’s mission to combat some of the common problems facing those living in nursing homes, such as isolation and a longing for friends and family, is already delivering positive results. One participant was asked “what’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?” Her response: “probably being here with all of you right now.”

Even Brad has been a bit surprised with the level of optimism he has seen from the group during its first few meetings. He recently asked the group for their opinions on whether the world’s ethics and morals are evolving or devolving. He expected plenty of answers blaming younger generations for the world’s problems, but was encouraged to hear more of an understanding and compassionate point-of-view. This collective outlook for a hopeful future mirrors what Brad hopes this group can provide for the elders living at St. John’s. “We seem to be ministering to the need that these elders have for these types of connections in their lives.  The overwhelmingly positive response we are seeing from them reflects that.”

The Senior Life Group, developed by the Spiritual Life and Therapeutic Recreation programs at St. John’s, meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 2:30 p.m. in the St. John’s Home auditorium.

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