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by Mary-Frances Hansen

Healthy relationships are important at any age, but for seniors it is most important because it helps seniors stay stimulated, mentally sharp, emotionally fit, and intellectually engaged. Staying socially active will help prevent cognitive decline, including memory loss and other forms of dementia.

According to Dr.Craig Sawxhuk, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic psychologist , “We are social animals by nature, so we tend to function better when we are in a community setting and being around others.” Senior isolation affects every aspect of our lives. It affects our

mood, our mental health, and isolation often leads to physical deterioration. In a study done at the National Academy of Sciences, seniors who were lonely and isolated showed higher rates of poor physical and mental health like Hypertension, Coronary artery disease, Cardiac failure, Depression, Anxiety, and Dementia including Alzheimers.

There is nothing wrong with seniors maintaining their independence, but it is important to recognize the benefits of socializing and the hazards of neglecting the social aspect of their lives. Socialization helps the brain stay active and healthy. Social activities with people are like exercises for your brain because they keep your mind agile and improve cognitive function. A 2017 study published by researchers at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinburg School of Medicine found individuals 80 and above with the mental agility of 50 year olds. The common factor was they had a close knit group of friends. Positive meaningful relationships with other people brings us joy. It is vital to our well-being. Having a friend on your side not only encourages you, but makes you feel hopeful during difficult times, Quote from the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:11,“Encourage one another and build each other up. “

Positive words can change the way we feel about ourselves, and when we change the way we think, our actions begin to reflect it. If you believe leading a more active lifestyle will be draining work, then it will be. Great quote by Abraham Lincoln, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” If your mindset believes interacting with friends will be fun and exciting, your results will be positive, because socialization prompts positivity. Psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, says, “It is a wonderful thing to be optimistic. It keeps you healthy and keeps you resilient.”One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he!” You are a product of your thoughts.

Covid-19 pandemic magnified the need for and the importance of socialization.

Debra Saxon, founder and owner of Celebration Magazine knew that forced isolation of seniors would lead to increased stress, anxiety, depression, and would take a toll on their physical and mental health because of their lack of stimulation. She had the brilliant idea to introduce Zoom to seniors on their computers.

Dan Price, Creative Director, (who is Debra's brother) and Zoe Frost, Marketing Director, were the perfect Host and Hostess to bring Zoom into the homes of so many seniors. Several times a week this dynamic duo would host some of the most interesting and fun things for the seniors to do on Zoom while they were isolated at home. To name a few things like.... Name That Tune, Bingo, toured President George W. Bush Museum and also The Dallas World of Aquarium. They had some of the most interesting speakers on various topics including Dallas Morning News Watchdog, Dave Lieber, who was most entertaining. Dan was so cute asking them what they had for Dinner last night. They were so responsive with their answers and it became a really fun topic! These seniors met new friends on Zoom and became one big happy family! They would sing Happy Birthday on someone's birthday. I understand at times it was hysterical because so many were off key. It brought lots of laughter to the group. What a joy and blessing this was for Covid Isolated Seniors! This brilliant idea Debra had gave the seniors something to look forward to each week ,and they acquired so many new friendships. Great quote by 20th Century French Writer , Marcel Proust, “Lets be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our soul blossom.” Friendships are priceless and we should nourish them.

Now that the pandemic is over , Dan and Zoe aren't hosting Zoom anymore, but they are encouraging seniors to come to the fun events at Celebration which is called “The Spot.” Greg Saxon, Director of Celebration Senior Travel, (who is Debra's husband) and Debra have planned some of the most exciting and fun trips this year and even next year. Their motto is.... “We do the work, You have the fun!” They have made it possible for seniors who think they can't travel anymore because they need a scooter, wheelchair, walker, or on a special diet. Greg and Debra try to meet all the needs of seniors making it possible for them to travel. Encouraging quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “ We must do the things you think you cannot do.” Greg and Debra and their staff travel with the passengers on all the fabulous trips. Encouraging quote by Frances of Assisi, “Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible!”

I am a firm believer seniors have to “keep on keeping on until they can't keep on anymore”!!!! Live life to its fullest and focus on the positive. Great quote by Ralph Marston,“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows!”

Stay strong, Stay safe and Keep the faith!

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