News Brief

May is Older American Month

In tough times, communities find strength in people—and people find strength in their communities. In the past year, we’ve seen this time and again in our communities as friends, neighbors, and businesses have found new ways to support each other.

In our 11 communities we serve, older adults are a key source of this strength. Through their experiences, successes, and difficulties, they have built resilience that helps them to face new challenges. When communities tap into this, they become stronger too.

Each May, the Administration for Community Living leads the celebration of Older Americans Month (OAM). This year’s theme is Communities of Strength, recognizing the important role older adults play in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.

Strength is built and shown not only by bold acts, but also small ones of day-to-day life—a conversation shared with a friend, working in the garden, trying a new recipe, or taking time for a cup of tea on a busy day. And when we share these activities with others—even virtually or by telling about the experience later—we help them build resilience too.

 This year, Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) will celebrate OAM by encouraging community members to share their experiences. Together, we can find strength—and create a stronger future.

Here are some ways to share and connect:

Look for joy in the everyday: Celebrate small moments and ordinary pleasures by taking time to recognize them. Start a gratitude journal and share it with others via social media, or call a friend or family member to share a happy moment or to say thank you.

Reach out to neighbors: Even if you can’t get together in person right now, you can still connect with your neighbors. Leave a small gift on their doorstep, offer to help with outdoor chores, or deliver a home-cooked meal.

Build new skills: Learning something new allows us to practice overcoming challenges. Take an art course online or try a socially distanced outdoor movement class to enjoy learning with others in your community. Maybe you have a skill to share? Find an opportunity to teach someone.

Share your story: There’s a reason storytelling is a time-honored activity. Hearing how others experience the world helps us grow. Engaging with family, friends, and neighbors can open up new conversations and strengthen our connections.

When people of different ages, backgrounds, abilities, and talents share experiences—through action, story, or service—we help build strong and educated communities. And that’s something to celebrate!

To learn more about what MVES has to offer older adults, please visit us at www.mves.org or call 781-324-7705.

Social Engagement Program is Helping Older Adults Feel Connected

Social isolation is a prevalent concern for approximately one-quarter of community-dwelling Americans aged 65 and older who are considered to be socially isolated, and a significant proportion of adults in the United States report feeling lonely, according to a report conducted by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. And with the coronavirus pandemic altering people’s lives and the ways in which they interact with others, isolation among older adults is at an all-time high. Social isolation can affect everything from mental health, nutrition, and mobility.

There are many reasons for social isolation beyond the pandemic. Some older adults might not have family, might be estranged from their family, might not be as technologically savvy as younger folks, and might rely on transportation or Adult Day Health in order to socialize.

To address this issue, Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) launched the Social Engagement Program a year ago, established to help improve the health and well-being of isolated older adults in the community by providing meaningful social connections.

The Social Engagement Program connects to older adults through supports that could include the following: the Telephone Reassurance Program, where a volunteer calls the isolated individual and provides a social contact and friendly conversation; the Card and Letter Writing option where participants and volunteers socialize through an exchange of cards and letters; the Email Pen Pal Program which provides socialization through email, and; the Friendly Visitor Program, in which the individual receives home visits that focus on in-person socialization and companionship(when it is determined safe to do so).  Trained and carefully screened volunteers are paired with community members and provide the visits, cards and letters, calls and emails.

MVES continues to respond to the increased social isolation faced by many older adults during this difficult past year. Cheryl, a 61 year old, was struggling to recover from hip replacement surgery. She was feeling isolated and very stressed-out, and wanting a listening ear and friendly support. Cheryl was very worried about her adult African American son, the recent racial protests, and how her family may be impacted. She needed someone to talk with who would understand her reality and lived experiences. That’s where the Social Engagement Program came in to Cheryl’s life.

Cheryl was matched with a MVES Social Engagement volunteer who had shared experiences and could relate to Cheryl’s family experiences and feelings. It has been a very supportive match for Cheryl and made such a positive difference in her life. When Cheryl speaks of her volunteer, she shares “We’re buddies. We really talk and laugh. We talk about serious things too.” Cheryl enjoys their phone calls and is looking forward to days ahead when she can spend time in person with her Social Engagement Program volunteer.

The Social Engagement Program is not only benefitting Cheryl, but more than 50 other socially isolated older adults who have their own unique life challenges.

MVES is playing an important role in the community to combat the effects of social isolation.  From increased well-being calls to ongoing home delivered meals and other in home services to providing resources for family caregivers now worrying about their elderly loved ones from afar, MVES is committed to remaining a consistent presence in the lives of those community members we are privileged to serve.

If you would like to learn more about the Social Engagement Program, please contact Linda Cornell at (781) 388-4839 [email protected] 

Due to the increased demand from community members, MVES is seeking volunteers for the Social Engagement Program.  If you would like to learn more about volunteering for the program, please contact Leah Mulrenan at (781) 388-2375 [email protected]

WHSDS to Perform Before Live Audience

The Winthrop High School Drama Society (WHSDS) is preparing for its first show with a live audience since March of 2020! The students will be performing “Charlotte’s Web” outside on the school patio (Middle School side) on May 22 at 1:00 p.m.  and 4:00 p.m.. Though the show is not open to the public, (invite only) it will be livestreamed on the WHSDS Youtube page. Shown above are the 35 students in the cast and crew.

Despite the challenges of this year, the students have managed to produce 4 shows- though they looked and felt very different. WHSDS did ‘A Christmas Carol: The Radio Play” in the Fall.They also made and are submitting a film, “Spoon River Anthology” to the METG Virtual Festival, held a modified Dinner Theater and now, a live, in person, “Charlotte’s Web.”

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