Friend to Friend: Building Bonds with Seniors
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (Ivanhoe Newswire) – With an aging population on the rise, more seniors are experiencing social isolation than ever before. However, one organization is stepping up to help spark new connections and friendships.
As we age, more and more older Americans are experiencing feelings of loneliness. On top of that, new studies reveal that social isolation can result in cognitive decline issues, such as dementia. However, making new friends is not always easy. That’s why the non-profit ‘Friend-to-Friend America’ has made it their mission to help bridge this gap and offer a lifeline to seniors.
Mae Shuyetani and Irene Monsoon are two long-time friends who know each other’s every move. Shuyetani, at ninety-one, often finds herself without family around. This is where ‘Friend-to-Friend America’ stepped in, matching her with Monsoon, a volunteer, twelve years ago. Their bond has remained unbreakable since.
“When I see you, it makes me smile and happy. How do you feel?” asks Shuyetani. Monsoon replies, “Good inside.”
Shuyetani’s story is not unique. Recent polls indicate that one in three adults between the ages of fifty to eighty feel socially isolated. Chronic loneliness can contribute to memory loss, lack of physical exercise, and inadequate nutrition.
“Covid brought attention to everyone that isolation and loneliness are huge issues,” emphasizes Lisa Slavik, the Executive Director of Friend-to-Friend America. The organization, armed with a team of a hundred trained volunteers, is actively visiting seniors in the Pacific Northwest.
Slavik explains their approach, “We look at what their interests are, where they live, what they want to get out of a relationship. And then we work really hard to find a volunteer.”
Each volunteer commits to meeting their friend twice a month for a year, but many of these relationships extend far beyond that initial commitment. Slavik, who has a personal connection to the cause, emphasizes, “It’s really about creating that hundred percent friendship.”
Friend-to-Friend America, in its forty-five years of operation, estimates that it helps around six hundred seniors each year in the Pacific Northwest region. The ultimate goal is to expand this impactful initiative nationwide. Currently, the non-profit is operated by volunteers and relies on donations for funding.
If you’re interested in learning more about Friend-to-Friend America or volunteering, visit their website at FriendToFriendAmerica.org.
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