Senior Isolation Has No Home Here

 In Enrichment

We’ve had our vaccinations, the summer is almost here, and we’re ready to get out and about! But what does the new normal look like? One thing that’s clear is we need to keep finding new ways to build community. If there was ever any question about it, the effects of isolation have become abundantly clear over the last year and a half. Senior isolation and loneliness are of particular concern to us, so how can we combat social isolation in older adults? 

Masked woman raising two fists in victory after receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine!

It can be especially difficult to contend with these issues when our activities are limited. Luckily, as our options open back up, this should get easier. The worst is behind us. We’re so grateful that it’s becoming safe to return to many cultural and educational programs at Ariel-Foundation Park, the Brown Family  Environmental Center at Kenyon College (BFEC), The Grand Hotel, Memorial Theatre, MVNU, and The Woodward Opera House.

We are doing so with full hearts and careful optimism.    

Why is Senior Socialization Important?

Do our Elders partake in our Campus Community Connection Events because they’re just plain fun? Of course! But there’s a deeper value here too. Participation in exciting senior activities goes a long way toward combatting isolation and the resultant loneliness and boredom.  

Fun Times in Mount Vernon!

Y’all remember “fun,” right? I’m gotta be honest… our Elders never forgot about it. They’ve done a better job of keeping their fun quotas up than many people I know, even through our pandemic adjustments.

After all, who could forget our socially distanced car parade or the famous COVID-19 pumpkin from our pumpkin-carving contest? 😂 They really have been such great sports. It’s been inspiring to see.

COVID-19 pumpkin

The COVID-19 pumpkin was a top finisher in this year’s contest.

Fighting Senior Isolation: A Look Back Over the Years

There are way too many lonely seniors in our country, and social isolation in older adults can have an extremely negative effect on senior health. Thankfully, our staff is conscientious about the community we build. That doesn’t mean we don’t still encounter social isolation inside our campus, but it does mean we root it out. Because there’s no place for that here at OESH! Inclusion and stepping into each others’ metaphorical shoes are a big part of the person-centered care model we adhere to.

So what have the years been like at OESH? Can we reminisce a little??

Well… we’ve danced with the Mount Vernon Jazz Band. We’ve swayed to Motown and sipped hot chocolate as we tapped our toes to a late-season performance of the MVHS Marching Band at Ariel-Foundation Park. We’ve traveled alongside eagles on the Buckeye Trail and traveled to evening garden party festivities at the BFEC.

The first-person Chautauqua portrayals of notable historical figures at The Grand certainly piqued our interest too. Speaking of wonderful acting, we’ve flown with Dorothy to the Land of Oz and made new friends at the Community Concert Series. Same at The Memorial’s Christmas Cantatas! Everyone was enraptured by MVNU’s Handel’s Messiah, and what a delight it was going to The Woodward each and every time we could!  

Everyone is SO excited to get back to safely making these types of memories!

Will Senior Isolation Go Away in Society?

Sadly, we all know the answer to this. Senior isolation is not something that ends with a vaccine or suddenly goes away as we start to control the fallout of a worldwide pandemic. Lonely seniors are all around us, and in order to contribute bring about a world in which social isolation is a non-factor will take work. And I think it’s important to ask ourselves a question.

What Can We Do to Better Empower Our Seniors?

Seniors are incredible people — people who generally have quite a wealth of information and experiences. It’s a shame whenever anyone with such wisdom doesn’t have the community and channels to express all of that.

So what can we each do to support the seniors in our lives and help them tap into their immense personal value? It’s an open-ended question, and it’s one I hope you’ll ponder. There’s no one right answer, of course. Maybe you make an effort to call your grandma more. Perhaps you show up safely to take your neighbor out to lunch. There are so many ways to make a difference in the lives of our elderly friends and fmaily when we start to look for them.

A couple of women holding a sign that says "You are amazing" and waving through a window at a smiling man to combat senior isolation during COVID.

The amazing friends and family of our Elders showed up in force all throughout the pandemic to show their love and support in safe ways. 🙂