THE RAVAGES OF LONELINESS
If someone were to ask you
to name the things all people need for survival, you'd likely first list "the big three": food, clothing and shelter. Those who are lacking in these basic needs would signal to you that they are in a personal crisis.
But more and more, regular human interaction is being perceived as a basic human need just as critical to a person's well-being as the big three. In the elderly, who are more likely to be socially isolated, the effects of loneliness and lack of engagement are now being recognized as a major health risk reaching epidemic proportions.
The health risks of
are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
- The AARP Foundation
These major media outlets are responding to numerous studies that illustrate the toxic effects of isolation and chronic loneliness on the health and well-being of the elderly. According to one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), loneliness is linked to decline in nearly every functional ability. Other studies reveal a connection to impaired mental performance; compromised immune systems; increases in vascular, inflammatory and heart disease; and an increased risk of death.
YOU ARE HELPING TO END ELDER LONELINESS AND ITS EFFECTS
As a donor or volunteer, you are playing a big role in reducing elder isolation and its risks -- and on a larger scale than ever before.
Your generosity is allowing LBFE to intensify its efforts to reach more elders and deepen our involvement per elder. We're well on our way in our three-year Strategic Plan toward recruiting and training a larger team of volunteers for our Visiting and Advocacy program. The volunteers will be empowered to take on a broad range of roles and levels of responsibility.
Through these aggressive efforts - and with your ongoing support - more elders in our communities will have the relationships to keep them connected, cared about and, ultimately, living longer and fuller lives.
From the Executive Director
You are an unsung hero
Whether you realize it or not, as a supporter or volunteer of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly, you are a leader in an exciting and strategically designed movement to end isolation and loneliness among the elders of our community.
Unless you are new to our organization or have been away for a while, you already know that we have been making some significant changes over the last several months. Together we are realigning our organization to recruit and support a growing number of volunteers. This will allow us to provide more life-changing social interaction with the elder friends we currently serve, while setting the stage to serve significantly more elder friends in the coming months.
And with your help, we are also implementing a new process for collecting and reporting important data.
(See Ann Fosco's article.)
This data will be used to make sure each individual elder friend is getting all that they want or need from LBFE, and serve as a tool to measure the effectiveness and community impact of our programs.
All of these changes couldn't come at a better time. The issue of elder isolation as a community health crisis is finally garnering local and national media attention. More and more people are starting to realize what we have known for some time: that older adults need meaningful social interaction as a requirement for a healthy life. Without it, their physical and mental health suffer measurably and undeniably.
And now we need you more than ever before. Because few funding agencies have caught up with the research showing the relationship between loneliness and elder health outcomes, we rely on our caring community -- individual donors, foundations, workplaces and volunteers like you -- to support the important work of LBFE.
Please help us spread the word that Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly's companionship programs
reduce loneliness and help enrich and prolong lives. Talk with your friends, neighbors and family members. Ask them to join with us in building a community where no elder feels alone in life, and every elder is valued and loved. Contact me at
or 612.721.1400 for information or materials.
GOING THE DISTANCE
FOR EACH OTHER
When Jason Lennox, age 30, was matched with 81-year-old Elder Friend Laura as her Visiting Volunteer last October, it wasn't long before he knew the relationship would click.
"Laura doesn't ever seem to give up hope in life situations," Jason said. During several visits, she didn't feel very well, but decided to participate in activities anyway. "I admire that she continues to hold a positive attitude and is grateful for what she still has in life," he added.
That sense of perseverance in the face of adversity appeals to Jason for a couple of reasons. For one, he doesn't let the 140-mile round trip from his home in Owatonna to Laura's residence in St. Paul and back get in the way of their visits.
But Jason is also testimony to the fact that people can turn their lives around when all seems hopeless. "I lived a very troubled life until the age of 24 and was given another chance at life," he said. "I've been blessed and fought to give back ever since." He graduated college last month, and passes along to others the value of self-discipline in his dual roles of financial analyst and personal fitness trainer. Jason has an 11-year-old son, as well as a large immediate and extended family.
Laura profits from her visits with Jason in more ways than one. "Jason brings me luck at bingo," she said. "I'm saving up all the dimes that I win." Laura has been a beneficiary of LBFE's services since 2003. "Everybody from Little Brothers has been so nice to me," she attested. She enjoys music and has recently become a fan of jazz. "No one should be afraid to try something new," she counseled.
The nearly 50-year age difference poses no barrier to Jason. He had previously volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters but had often wondered if there were opportunities to give at the other end of the age spectrum. He came across LBFE during an internet search. "I lost my two closest grandparents on August 15 -- Grandpa in 2015 and Grandma in 2016." That, plus the feeling he and others hadn't spent enough time with his grandparents, added to his commitment to help isolated elders. "I've experienced the effects of isolation and depression, and I believe everyone should have the chance to escape those feelings, even if just a few times a month."
If you would like to learn how you can enrich an elder's life as a volunteer, please contact
Georgia Afton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612.746.0732
Volunteers measure LBFE's impact with new
ONLINE ELDER REPORTS
I am honored to have been chosen to join the Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly family as Community Impact Director. I have been with you all since mid-October, and in these few short months have been amazed by this community of caring, compassionate, mission-focused individuals driven to be part of a community-wide movement to relieve loneliness and isolation for our elders.
My responsibilities focus on working with our dedicated corps of volunteers to achieve our mission's goals. But this can only happen one elder at a time. We know we're making an impact -- not only on our elders but on the Twin Cities community -- if we find that each elder feels less isolated, less lonely and has a greater sense of belonging.
How then do we gather such critical information regarding the well-being of our LBFE elder friends? Through the eyes, ears, hands and hearts of our volunteers, of course. A newly developed LBFE Elder Engagement Report is a simple yet powerful tool for each elder's Visiting Volunteer to measure not only the amount of social engagement an elder has, but to describe how lonely that elder might be feeling. This Elder Report allows our staff to more closely monitor the safety and well-being of each of our elders, chart their progress toward feeling less lonely and provide on-going support to our volunteers. The information is gathered through a few simple conversational questions and submitted online after each elder visit.
If loneliness is indeed a risk factor for poor health outcomes
, then LBFE volunteers are just what the doctor ordered. Developing meaningful, personal relationships, the heart of the LBFE mission, may in fact improve health outcomes for our elders. LBFE volunteers are helping us demonstrate the power of relationship-building by sharing their observations, concerns and successes through the Elder Engagement Report. Our volunteers are the voice for elders who may not otherwise be heard.
Community Impact Director
YOUR DEDICATION TO LBFE'S MISSION
Your will or estate plan can be a meaningful way to continue supporting isolated and lonely elders in the years ahead. Many of our programs for elders have benefited through the foresight of donors and volunteers like you who have included the Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly in their planned giving.
By setting up an estate gift, you can ensure that your assets are kept available for you and your family's needs. In addition, you can optimize those funds through the use of wise tax-saving and income-producing strategies.
What's more, an estate gift can keep you in control. You decide how your assets will be distributed. Here are a few options:
- Leave a specific dollar amount to LBFE.
- Designate a percentage of your estate to be given through your will or living trust.
- Set up your gift as "residual" (the remaining portion of your estate after bequests to loved ones have been made).
By including LBFE in your will or estate plan, you will be recognized as a valued member of the Armand Marquiset Society, named after our visionary founder.
"It's gratifying to know that, after I'm gone,
my support for ending loneliness
My planned gift makes me immortal."
- Phyllis G.
Be sure to contact your attorney for professional advice when drawing up a will or estate plan. For further information about planning a charitable bequest to benefit Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly, please contact James Falvey at 612.721.1400 or email@example.com.
YOU FORGE LASTING FRIENDSHIPS
Visiting Volunteers like Jim Anathan (right) make sure John and other LBFE elder friends know they are valued, respected and cared about.
The role of Visiting Volunteer is just one of many opportunities available at LBFE. We're also vigorously looking for Event Team Members, Office Assistants, Phone Companions and more.
Whether as a volunteer, financial supporter or corporate partner, you can play a critical role in ending isolation and loneliness among the elderly in the Twin Cities.
Please contact us today to learn more.
Please support LBFE's
work to provide friendship
to lonely seniors in the greater Twin Cities area.
"Friends for Life" Breakfast
Wednesday, May 11
TABLE CAPTAINS NEEDED!
LBFE's next fundraiser, the 2017 Friends for Life Breakfast, is an all-out effort to build our network of support. We are looking for 25 table sponsors to each invite seven guest to learn about LBFE.
The Breakfast features
Will Phillips, AARP Minnesota's State Director, who will provide an overview of elder isolation and its effects on our community. LBFE elders, volunteers and donors will share personal testimonials.
REFER A FRIEND
as a volunteer!
53 elders are on a waiting list for companionship! Here's how you can help:
Bring or refer a friend to a volunteer orientation.
Spread the word through community networks (faith community, Rotary, etc.)
Host an LBFE gathering in your home.
Share your LBFE story on social media.
LET'S DO LUNCH CAFE
Our monthly "cafe" brings LGBTQ seniors and allies together in friendship and acceptance.
* FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24
Presentation by Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging: "Preparing Health Care Directives"
* FRIDAY, MARCH 24
* FRIDAY, APRIL 27
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
LBFE, 1845 E Lake St., Mpls
- A FREE hearty lunch
- Great conversation
- Information on senior and LGBTQ services
A joint effort
LBFE and Prime Timers MSP.
- Event coordinators for elder events
- Paint and painting of interior walls and exterior walkway
- Sidewalk shoveling
- Lawn mowing/ weeding
- General handyperson
- Gift cards to Target or Cub for elder and volunteer event supplies
- Greeting cards for birthday, get well, sympathy and thank-you (non-religious)
To donate goods or services, contact Michael Haas at
RECENT GRANTS AWARDED
Our heartfelt thanks to the following organizations that have awarded gifts or grants to our chapter from July 1 to December 31, 2016. Grants support general operations unless noted otherwise.
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
Elmer L. and Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation
Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation
Burdick Family Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation
Paul and Patricia Curran Foundation
IWJ Charitable Foundation
Margaret H. and James E. Kelley Foundation
Leonette M. and Fred T. Lanners Foundation (Visiting and Advocacy)
James T. Nystrom Foundation
Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota
Elizabeth C. Quinlan Foundation
Roseville Area Community Foundation
Stevens Square Foundation (Visiting and Advocacy)
James R. Thorpe Foundation
H.E. and Helen R. Warren Foundation
The following elder friends and volunteers were remembered at our November memorial service.
Our next memorial service is Monday, February 27, 4-5 p.m. at 1845 East Lake Street in Minneapolis.
We encourage anyone whose life has been touched by an elder we served or an LBFE volunteer to attend our memorial services. Feel free to bring any photos or memories to share. Please contact Sandy O'Donnell at
if you would like to attend.
HOLIDAY PHOTO GALLERY
HOLIDAY CHEER WAS IN ABUNDANCE when LBFE hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners at the Envision Event Center. Thank you to the 306 dedicated volunteers who ensured 224 elders celebrated with caring friends.