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).
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.
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?
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.
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.