New Resident Group Strives To Alleviate Social Isolation
“The word ‘connection’ means something to all of us; it’s about connecting with our neighbors and looking at the various entertaining ways to do so.” – Karyl Friedman, Chestnut Court resident
Social isolation among seniors continues to be an issue that is not going away anytime soon and residents at St. John’s Meadows and Brickstone by St. John’s are taking action. Known as the “connections committee,” members meet monthly with their specific neighborhoods to brainstorm and discuss opportunities for connection, both for existing residents as well as new residents. “The word ‘connection’ means something to all of us; it’s about connecting with our neighbors and looking at the various entertaining ways to do so,” states Chestnut Court committee member Karyl Friedman.
Although the committee is fairly new, group members and resident life director, Chantel Foster, have been busy planning events, large and small, to help those who may feel lonely or isolated. The most recent event brought everyone together for apple tastings with DeFisher Fruit Farms and hard cider from Rootstock Ciderworks. “It’s all about getting people together and meeting someone new,” says Chantel.
On a smaller scale the committee continues to include more intimate monthly events within their respective neighborhoods. One idea is having a ‘connection corner,’ where group members can help residents converse with their neighbors while enjoying a light snack and beverage. Other ideas include a birthday club, fashion show, pancake breakfast, pot luck dinner, and more.
For new residents like Beneta Silberstein, the committee has helped her not feel as lonely. “I am at the end of the hall, so I feel like there are not many people around. I wanted to be part of a group,” Beneta states. Other residents, like Beneta, feel similar. “I wanted see if others had the same interests as me. The interest that we share can often lead to a deeper connection and I think that just multiplies the strength of the friendships formed,” explains committee member Alice Mahan.
It is obvious that friendships are forming, even among the smallest discussions. Recently a few Briarwood committee members have been meeting after dinner to simply have a conversation. “We need something to do after dinner, especially in the winter,” states resident Jackie Davidson. “Surprisingly, people who walk by our group stop and visit. We get to know each other.” The conversations are not limited to residents alone. Staff members from various departments have also taken a few moments to sit and chat.
While the committee has plenty of ideas and ways to alleviate social isolation within their neighborhoods, it is going to take time to encourage those who are feeling lonely to participate. The overall goal of the committee is to help others live healthier and more enriching lives by socializing and meeting new people. “We have planted the seeds,” states Karyl. “It just takes time.”