WISE & HEALTHY AGING
SPECIAL TO THE MIRROR
For most, the holidays are a time for family gatherings and festive parties, but for many older adults it is a time of loneliness and isolation. Living alone without family or friends nearby while coping with physical issues that limit mobility can bring on depression. But a visit from a new friend can change all that.
Phil and Phyllis Ruben have been visiting seniors through the Friendly Visitors Program at WISE & Healthy Aging in Santa Monica for the past eight years. Married for 47 years, they bring their love and joy of living to the lives of men and women who are often housebound and lonely.
“We’ve always taken care of the older people in our family.” Phyllis explains. “It has been a way of life for us.” After retiring from their printing business, where they worked together for more than 30 years, Phil said, “We wanted to do something.” A friend told them about WISE & Healthy Aging and soon they were enrolled in the Friendly Visitors Program.
Phil visits three clients and Phyllis visits two. They visit each client once a week for an hour or so. “They are so lonely,” Phyllis said. “They have no family. For most, we are their only windows to the outside.” Some of the clients live in their own homes and some live in residential homes. For example, Phil said, “I’ll take Bill (not his real name), who still drives his own car, out to lunch. We go Dutch. We talk about our grandkids, we save the world, and talk about books. We had a great time discussing the presidential election.” He also visits two ladies in their late 80s. “One woman is in a care facility. She always thanks me for visiting.”
“Listening is so important. Going to visit and listen seems to really lift their spirits. You don’t have to ask questions,” Phyllis explained. “They’ll usually tell you what is on their minds. she said When I meet a new client, we are interviewing each other. We share their pain, but we also laugh a lot. You think you are giving to them. It’s really the reverse. They have so many experiences they share with us.”
Currently there is a waiting list of seniors who want visitors. A little bit of your time can mean the world to another person. If you’d like to join Phyllis and Phil, please call 310.394.9871, ext. 450 to begin sharing an hour or two of your time.