While there are many organized activity centers, some seniors prefer belonging to less formal social groups.
Norm, 93 years young, was my late father’s buddy. He recently wrote to me about the PLAY DO group he belongs to: “People Living Alone And Yearning to Dine Out.” Every three weeks about ten or 15 seniors dine together at different restaurants. Ladies often outnumber the men, two to one. After dinner, they each contribute $1 to a cash box. The money is used to send flowers to ill members and is sometimes donated to local charities. Prior to each dinner, one member of the group phones the others to see who will be attending the next event. Carpools get arranged, as some are not comfortable driving at night. Norm reports that he is always a designated driver, lucky to have good night vision. “We get good service and often little perks with the meal,” he says. The group has been going strong for seven years, and has about 25 active members. Bravo Norm!
If dinner isn’t your thing you might want to think about a morning breakfast gathering. My mother has been enjoying daily MacDonald’s breakfasts for over two decades. For the past ten years, she and several other seniors have been gathering at the Decarie Blvd. location. These diners include retired and working seniors – it’s a diverse group that has formed special relationships by meeting regularly for breakfast. Saturdays are the busiest with as many as 15 people occupying a section of the restaurant to chat, share news, gossip, joke and keep up-to-date on each other’s lives. My mother is always giving advice to her family based on information she’s learned here.
The staff welcome this group and have no issue with tables being occupied for hours each morning. When my mother fell ill in her home last year and the family couldn’t reach her, our first thought was to check with Debbie, the manager, to see if she’d been in for breakfast that morning. When I sat down to meet with the group I discovered my mother, Goldie, seems to be the central figure and has been given the nickname Golda Meir. As she enters the restaurant one of the staff shouts, “Breakfast for Goldie!” And she receives table service. Grateful for their kindness and attention, she buys gifts for the staff at Christmas.
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A few of the seniors have shared occasional outings outside of breakfast time. They started out as strangers, beginning their day together, without formal membership, and it works beautifully.
A group I once facilitated for spouses of those affected by Alzheimer Disease still meets regularly for dinners and special events. The group has been around for more than 15 years and has evolved from formal meetings to more social gatherings. Having shared so much, the bond among members remains strong. I am thankful to still be invited to dinners, which I attend occasionally, and will not miss the upcoming 90th birthday celebration of one member.
Support, friendship, and activities come in different forms. These are a few examples of fabulous do-it-yourself senior groups. Have you considered starting your own?