Personal Reflections from the President & CEO
President & CEO
A couple of weeks ago, we began Rales Rides, the Community Center Van Access Program providing bus service for those without the ability to currently attend programs and events at the Shirley & Barton Weisman Delray Community Center. The wheelchair accessible buses enable frail, disabled, and otherwise homebound seniors to access numerous programs and services at one location including educational, health and wellness, and social opportunities.
For one particular client, Rales Rides provides the opportunity to reconnect with friends and resume participation in all of the fun activities she had used to enjoy. The client was an active member at the Weisman Center, but two years ago, was no longer able to drive. She is overjoyed to be back and is taking full advantage of the programs and comradery that the Weisman Center offers.
The impact of socialization for the senior population cannot be stressed enough. There are many studies done that show that socialization reduces multiple health risks associated with aging. In Nicholas R. Nicholson’s introduction to his article “A Review of Social Isolation,” published in The Journal of Primary Prevention he states, “social isolation has been demonstrated to lead to numerous detrimental health effects in older adults, including increased risk for all-cause mortality, dementia, increased risk for re-hospitalization, and an increased number of falls.”
According to a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in adults aged 52 and older, primarily caused by illnesses and conditions such as chronic lung disease, arthritis, impaired mobility, and depression .
AARP reports that, “life expectancy exceeds safe driving expectancy after age 70 by about six years for men and 10 years for women.” Yet, 41% of seniors do not feel that the transportation support in their community is adequate, says the National Council on Aging. Having access to adequate public transportation or other senior transportation services is key to seniors’ accessing programs and resources, as well as their feelings of connectedness and independence.
In addition to Rales Rides, JFS offers numerous programs and services allowing seniors to remain independent, including:
• CareLink (geriatric case management)
• Kibbitz & Ride
• Telephone Reassurance Program
• Senior Companion Program
• Meals on Wheels
As we celebrate the Fourth of July, let’s remember to embrace our independence in all its forms.