The Power of One Good Deed: How to End Senior Isolation One Rose at a…
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As we age, our contacts with the outside world often become fewer as our connections with inanimate objects such as computers and phones become some of the only constants in our lives.

According to The Guardian, less than 25% of the 60 million older adults in American who live in a senior living community receive a loving touch on a daily basis. That means that millions of our grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, and uncles go a full day without being hugged and reminded of their true worth and specialness. These statistics about the impact that loneliness and isolation has on our brains only get scarier:

  • People who are 80 years old or older report that they feel isolated more than 80% of the time (aging in the United States, 2014).
  • The majority of seniors in America do not receive a daily visit (Meals on Wheels of America, 2015).
  • The risk of prolonged isolation is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day (Connect 2 Affect, 2017).
Two people holding hands

Finding Your Inspiration

When I take time to reflect on the isolation that our older adult heroes face on a daily basis, it makes me want to take a stand because it makes me think of my own grandmother.

My grandmother, who we affectionately called Babi, was and will always be my inspiration. She epitomized unconditional love and never let her closest relatives go a day without knowing how special she thought they were.

I grew up living ten minutes away from my Babi and spent countless nights at her house. We would play cards, eat knishes, and listen to her stories about growing up in Russia during the time of the Pogroms, when Jews were being heavily persecuted in the 1920’s.

When my Babi was six years old, three of her younger siblings had already died of starvation and her family faced continued danger. Her family was sponsored by a cousin in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada when my Babi’s family fled Russia and the danger of persecution for a fresh start in North America.

Although my Babi’s family was safe in Winnipeg upon their arrival, her parents did not speak English, so her family could barely make ends meet. In order to help her parents to get by, my Babi had to drop out of school in 8th grade to work.

Older lady sitting in cafe

It’s Not Fair – What Can We Do About It?

Despite the constant struggle and heartbreak that defined the earlier part of her life, my Babi did not let negativity or fear phase her at all. She raised four children and nurtured a huge loving family with eleven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

My Babi was the most charismatic, meaningful person in my life, so when I walked into her rehabilitation community after she fell and broke her hip, I was overwhelmed. A feeling of emptiness and uneasiness existed all around us.

For the six years that my grandmother was at the rehabilitation community, she suffered from an aggressive form of dementia, I knew that she was one of the 75% of older adults who would not receive a loving interaction on a daily basis. How could someone who has given so much love in her life get so very little when she needed it the most?

Caregiver hugging elderly woman

Welcome to Cupid Crew

My grandmother’s story is all too common. All of our seniors are heroes to someone, and all of them have something important that they have given to the world.

Seven years ago, Wish of a Lifetime introduced Cupid Crew to the world, a movement that empowers volunteers to make sure that as many seniors as possible receive a loving interaction on Valentine’s Day by delivering a beautiful rose.

For some, this Valentine’s Day will be the first loving interaction they would experience without their spouse. For others, it is just another day of loneliness. Whatever the experience, we owe it to our veterans, our survivors, our parents, our teachers, and our friends to provide a moment of love. We need to show these wonderful older adults that kindness still exists in our world today and that they are absolutely deserving of it.

valentines flower basket for seniors

Honor my Babi and Your Loved Ones

Please join this movement on February 14th, 2020. As you are delivering a rose, think about someone that you wish would have received such a blessed and joyful interaction while they were still alive, and reflect on how lucky you are to spread such love to them. I know I will.

About the Author(s)

Jared Bloomfield is the Special Projects Manager of the international nonprofit organization Wish of a Lifetime (WOL) whose mission is to shift the way society views and values our oldest generation by fulfilling seniors’ dreams and sharing stories to inspire those of all ages. Jared feels grateful to have ‘the best job’ at ‘the best place’ and is thrilled with the innovative and significantly positive steps that Wish of a Lifetime has taken on since he joined the team in 2014.

Jared joined WOL as an intern in 2014 and immediately fell in love with the tangible, meaningful and positive outcomes that he saw wish granting provide. After receiving his Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Denver in 2016, Jared joined the Wish of a Lifetime team as its Special Projects Manager. In this role, Jared has focused his energy on building out unique and creative ways to provide services to a wide ranging demographic of seniors and to engage community members in participating in this important movement. From recruiting, hiring and training 25-30 interns per year, working to support more low income seniors through wish granting and engaging the community with seniors through corporate social reasonability and other creative volunteer opportunities, Jared is proud of the change that WOL has underwent during his tenure. Jared is thrilled to see the growth of the Cupid Crew rose delivery event under his leadership, overseeing what was once a small, Denver based volunteer project that turned into a national volunteer day, engaging almost 3,000 volunteers in delivering 30,000 roses to seniors in 300 cities nationwide in 2019. In addition, as a licensed social worker, Jared and the WOL team have created a social work internship program that has engaged social work students in providing meaningful clinical services to wish recipients in Colorado. This program has provided more than 200 clinical hours and granted more than 40 wishes since the program started in 2016. Through exploring innovative solutions to complex problems that exist around aging, Jared sees great potential in Wish of a Lifetime’s future expansion of existing special projects and creation of new special projects.

Jared was able to bring several years of nursing home, senior independent living and hospice experience to the WOL team and appreciates the mix of micro and macro mindsets at the organization. Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Jared is very aware and appreciative of his roots, and fully dedicates his geriatric career to his maternal Grandmother, Eva, who passed in 2016 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Eva taught Jared the value of compassion, honesty and unconditional love. Jared feels very lucky to be at Wish of a Lifetime every day and constantly looks forward to experiencing the true joy and measureable worth of granting wishes on a daily basis.

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