For many older adults, maintaining an active social life only becomes more difficult with age. Retirement, the death of friends and family, lack of mobility or cognitive abilities can all contribute to feeling lonely.
Feeling lonely not only reduces quality of life but can seriously impact physical and mental health. In fact, according to recent studies, older adults experiencing social isolation and loneliness face a higher risk of mortality—as well as dementia and depression—than their more social peers.
Traci Dobronravova, MSW, Director of Seniors At Home, says, “We see older adults every day who are not connected to their community and the associated social isolation and the health risks have become critical issues in today’s society.”
Helping Seniors Stay Socially Active
One of the ways in which Seniors At Home is combating senior isolation in the Bay Area is by bringing older adults together through social clubs and day programs. Three unique programs cater to different needs and interests, providing older adults with stimulating activities, health and wellness programs and—most importantly—opportunities to make community connections during a time when their social worlds may be shrinking.
Connections and Culture at San Francisco’s New Plaza Social Club
Each week, members of the Plaza Social Club enjoy inspiring lectures, current events and art discussions, Jewish learning, films, music, and more. Locally sourced, homemade lunches are provided as well as access to comprehensive services by experts from Seniors At Home.
“The first meeting of the Plaza Social Club was an incredibly fun and exciting event – everyone had a wonderful time. We look forward to making each week intriguing for our members,” says Alana Goldscheid, Plaza Social Club Director.
Plaza Social Club members are primarily older adults who still live independently in the community, though it is also open to residents who live in Rhoda Goldman Plaza’s beautiful assisted living and memory care community.
Alana says, “The Plaza Social Club is here to help create a cohort of like-minded individuals walking through the same stage of life together. Having a weekly get together with others has a positive effect on an older adult’s social calendar.”
Building Community at the L’Chaim Adult Day Health Center
Across town in San Francisco’s Sunset District, the L’Chaim Adult Day Health Center has long been providing medical, rehabilitative, and social services to elderly and disabled seniors, mostly Russian émigrés. This June, L’Chaim will proudly celebrate its 20th anniversary of serving this community.
As a licensed facility and Community-Based Adult Service (CBAS) outpatient center, L’Chaim is a person-centered, long term care program that aims to keep older adults living in their homes as long as possible.
Members are able to access a variety of services all under one roof: nursing and personal care; case management; physical, occupational, massage, and speech therapy; nutritional counseling; and recreational and socialization activities. Door-to-door transportation, hot meals, and snacks are also included. Activities are as varied as bingo, lectures, concerts, English language classes, and computer classes.
Included in the umbrella of improving overall health is the fact that days spent at L’Chaim are social and fun. Upon their arrival, members meet in the main hall for a healthy snack before embarking on their daily activities. The warm greetings and connections are an integral part of the program. After a day of therapy, counseling, or a workout in L’Chaim’s gym, members gather again for a nutritious meal and socializing to end their day.
Community is at the center of L’Chaim’s mission and programming. For those émigrés who have had to leave their way of life behind, L’Chaim Program Director Anna Borovik says the club serves as “a bridge to their present lives in the United States. The staff is bilingual in Russian and English, and members find comfort in being among people with the same cultural background.”
Memory Wellness at Skyview Day Club in San Rafael
Across the bridge in San Rafael, Skyview Day Club offers social and memory wellness programming for adults experiencing cognitive decline. The daytime programs, offered five days per week, provide a social avenue for club members and much needed respite for their family members.
Activities Offer Excitement and Connection
Skyview Day Club offers two programs— an on-site club and the Excursion Club, which takes members on outings to art museums, historic sites, concerts, and more.
On a recent outing, club members visited the Cobra Mustang Museum in Martinez for a private tour of historic cars. Following the tour, the group enjoyed lunch at a nearby restaurant and stopped on the way home for ice cream. And the club’s facility dog, Allyson, a black lab trained at Canine Companions for Independence, got to tag along, too.
The on-site club offers art classes, exercise, music, lunch, and more. In addition to providing plenty of opportunity for members to spend time with one another, it offers inter-generational opportunities, too: preschoolers from the nursery school next door stop by regularly for arts and crafts, nature activities, or music.
The Link Between Social Activity and Health
Reducing the risk of isolation is especially important for older adults who are already experiencing memory loss. Jen Tripathy, Skyview Day Club Program Director, says, “Interacting and connecting with others enhances mood, which in turn wards off depression and can help slow down the cognitive decline.”
“Socially active seniors tend to be more physically active, too, and make better food choices when eating in a group setting, enhancing their overall health and well being.”
Lasting Benefits for Family Members, Too
For family caregivers, who are often faced with tough choices as they try to balance caring for their loved one with work and other responsibilities, Jen says the program provides time for caregivers to take care of themselves and rejuvenate.
“Not only do club members get to know each other and have friendships that last for years, but their families often become connected, too, reducing the isolation that family units can feel when caring for an adult with dementia,” says Jen.
Skyview Day Club families also have access to caregiver support groups, and workshops, as well as personalized tools and support from Seniors At Home’s Center for Dementia Care.
Through these three unique programs, Seniors At Home’s goal is to create vibrant social opportunities for seniors—whether they are facing challenges such as memory loss or mobility issues, or whether they are independent and looking for a deeper sense of community.
Traci says, “By connecting older adults with social activities and like-minded peers, we want to help our aging community avoid the risk of isolation and to live healthier, happier lives.”
To learn more about the above clubs contact:
To learn more about the many Seniors At Home services and programs call 844.243.4174 or contact us online today.