Knowing that I work a lot with Seniors, a friend who is interested in getting involved, recently asked me a great question. “What do Seniors need?”
What started as a causal conversation became something I feel very inspired to share with anyone who interacts with a senior – which is everybody really, right?
In an effort to actually understand the needs of seniors and go beyond what one might describe as strategic corporate philanthropy – over the past year I have had the privilege of listening to the stories of many seniors in the community and discovering what they value most.
I was truly in awe of what I learned – that beyond just assisting our neighbors with hard tasks there are many ways we can provide direct support and joy to the lives of those seniors around us.
Interactions with clients in Real Estate, spending quality time with neighbors, volunteering for meals on wheels and other direct support initiatives have lead me to a lot of “Ah-ha” moments.
First, I suggest that we put ourselves in the shoes of a 90 year old - I find when I say this many focus on their limitations and yes, that is a true concern – physical, emotional and mental challenges affect the daily life of seniors but in an effort to truly support them I suggest you focus on ALL that they are still able to do.
Try to identify activities that they enjoy and can still do.
Initiate meaningful conversations that give you an opportunity to learn from their wealth of knowledge.
Help them to feel comfortable enough to share and then just listening is so impactful.
I recently heard an expert from Google on a podcast say that loneliness is a greater killer than smoking. This really struck a cord for me.
Many seniors, whether they are immobile or not, have very limited social interactions. This is such an important part of our lives – all of the research I have personally done has reiterated that a sense of connection and play is paramount to our mental health and longevity in life.
When a senior can no longer drive it limits so much independence and it causes one’s environment to become very small very quickly.
Finding ways to help them still get to appointments, be a part of doing their own errands and just seeing the outside world can make an immeasurable difference. I was so moved by the joy I witnessed just by taking them to a coffee shop. It’s the small things.
Take time to stop and just say Hello. Basic courtesies go so far.
We all have crazy, busy lives and in place of being able to visit or plan an outing – make sure to let the seniors in your life and community know you are thinking of them.
One of the people I directly support as a volunteer and friend and her family were recently interviewed for a future publication and I was so moved to hear that she has said:
“I'm 93, almost 94 years old – I don’t get out, I don’t have a car anymore, I can't drive- and she is my right hand. She is more like a daughter to me than she is like a friend... It’s a blessing to me that’s close to me that I can call if I need help... I wouldn’t have anyone to visit if she didn’t come by”
And from her daughter who lives out of state:
“Margaux has been a blessing- I can text her, I can call her, and she's there for me. She checks in with my mother and she makes my day... but all in all the love and respect she gives to my mother and myself is just beautiful. We need more people like Margaux to help the seniors that are alone to get through their days and their lives. Margaux is one of those people- she is a gift to this family and [it] means the world to me.”
As both a real estate professional and community member in Pacific Palisades, Venice and Santa Monica, it is an honor to be continuing to develop ways to fully support seniors in these neighborhoods.
If you are interested in bettering the lives of seniors in the area, please reach out to me.
To extend this further I am working on a regular Senior Appreciation Effort in the community. Look out for additional information.