STUART – The holidays are known for bringing tidings of comfort and joy, but they can also cause deep depression in those suffering from loneliness. Realizing how vulnerable seniors remained to loneliness—and its serious, even reportedly potentially fatal, effects—the Visiting Nurse Association of Florida recently founded the Silver Socialites.
The Martin County-based program fosters and facilitates healthy socialization among seniors with activities that get them out enjoying life and making friends. And that can prove a real lifesaver. At 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, the Silver Socialites will enjoy—courtesy of VNA of Florida—a live performance by the Rockettes. The world-renowned dancers known for their high kicks and couture costumes are a centerpiece in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. VNA of Florida created the Silver Socialites after learning of a study by the National Institute of Aging where researchers discovered that loneliness exposed seniors to an “increased rate of death and functional decline.”
The study found that seniors most vulnerable to loneliness faced a 59 percent greater risk of decline and a 45 percent greater risk of death. “The Silver Socialites program is one of the most important prevention measures we offer—plus, it’s just a lot of fun for everyone involved,” said Donald Crow, CEO of the VNA of Florida. “Home healthcare remains our primary mission. But not all aliments are as evident as injuries or illnesses. Isolation, or greatly curtailed socialization, takes a toll on everyone—but especially seniors. And as the studies show, the effects can be devastating.”
“We believe in truly taking care of our patients and tending to their every need—and that includes their social health, too,” Crow added.
With more than 50 participants, Silver Socialites are unique in that they set their own agenda and plan desired outings by providing insight on their individual preferences including activities, preferred locations and specific events around town. This allows them to create a one-of-a-kind completely customizable calendar for social engagements, which include fishing tournaments, festivals and trips to the theater among other community events. VNA of Florida provides transportation to and from the destinations, striving to accommodate the group’s medical needs and personal preferences aboard the nonprofit’s newly remodeled bus equipped with wheelchair access.