Oct 2 2015

Fighting social isolation among elders

Juana, a sponsored elder in Mexico.

Juana, a sponsored elder in Mexico.

With age comes wisdom but also the risk of social isolation. Many elders across the globe may go days or weeks without speaking to anyone. Elders who live in poverty and face loneliness are at an even greater risk of depression and deteriorating mental health.

According to an article in The Guardian, one study showed individuals suffering from loneliness have a 64 percent greater risk of dementia.

At Unbound in Mexico, staffers knew many of the sponsored elders faced social isolation and they wanted to create a way for elders to feel good and useful. They created a workshop that meets twice a month and gives sponsored elders a chance to participate in group activities so they can socialize and feel they belong.

“My hope was to create a way for them to feel uplifted, be active, stimulate their minds and body, and have entertainment,” said staffer Aurora Castro. “[In the workshop,] they have learned to make jewelry, wood carvings, flower arrangements, cards and handbags. We also have gatherings to socialize, dance and discuss topics like personal growth.”

For sponsored elder Juana, 72, these workshops have renewed her sense of purpose.

“I have made many friends at the workshops,” Juana said. “I have a best friend named Guadalupe; she is also sponsored. … I enjoy cooking for both of us at her home, and we love to chat, share recipes and eat together.

“[Before I was sponsored] I was lonely. I did not have friends and occasionally talked to my neighbors. The program gave me the chance to meet many friends. It gave me new life. … I haven’t felt so alive and happy in a long time.”

Let an older adult know someone cares about them and sponsor an elder today.

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