Fall is in the air, which reminds us the holidays are right around the corner. During this time, our schedules get busier and juggling life and work can be more challenging. For seniors who reside in long-term care or assisted living facilities, they can see an increase in community involvement, but it is also a time when they may feel the loneliest. Many do not have family who live nearby or are easily available during this time to make their holidays more joyful.
I would like to share with you my recent experience in developing an intergenerational companion program for long-term care and assisted living residents. This program allows teens to spend time with residents who are lonely, love to talk, or who just need more encouragement to interact with the myriad of activities available to them.
We’ve found that the teens love hanging out with the residents and enjoy listening to their stories. One teen companion shared that her assigned resident loves to play the guitar. They have spent hours together talking music, playing the guitar and researching different music genres. Another companion shared that her assigned resident just loves to talk and really wanted to participate in activities but didn’t want to go alone. Through this experience, I learned the value that one-on-one personal interaction has for seniors who may not have enough time with their families.
There are many companion services available in the Flagstaff community to help provide that important one-on-one interaction for our loved ones. I would suggest researching available professional and volunteer companion services in the community to see if any would be a good fit. If you are considering a long-term care or assisted living environment for your loved one, ask the staff members if they have any services that offer one-on-one social interactions. Explore the community’s Life Enrichment programming. These programs can greatly support residents’ overall well-being and mental health. Programs like this will not only comfort your loved one, but also you as a family member to know they are getting meaningful personal interaction. FBN
By Leah Veschio, RN, MSN
Leah Veschio, RN, MSN, is the director of community outreach at
The Peaks Senior Living Community, 928-774-7106, ext. 2022.