Expand Your Mind and Social Network
April 23, 2019
She’s sitting eye to eye with a pair of 17-year-old high school students. Jackie Mattfeld is one of about 30 residents at The Merion who take part in monthly seminars where the two generations exchange views on various topics of interest to both sides. From pop culture trends to current and historical events, drug culture, dating, sports and religion — no topic is off-limits.
“If you really enjoy young people and miss interacting with youth, it’s a great program to attend,” Jackie says. “The students are engaging. They express their views, and we exchange ideas. So we learn from each other and discover what we have in common.”
Samara and Halle Michael, the high school twins who volunteer for the “Fill the Gap” seminars at The Merion, know it’s not something you find at most senior living communities in Chicago. And that’s what they like about it.
“Seniors have so much to offer — in terms of their perspectives and views — that a lot of younger people take for granted,” the Michael twins explain. “The Merion events give us a better understanding and appreciation for each other. We all benefit.”
Socialization is good for your health
“These activities contribute to an enriching environment and serve to stimulate considerable psychosocial growth by all residents,” says The Merion resident Christopher Tori. “Living here offers many positive and rewarding experiences, including these seminars, other discussion groups, field trips and various presentations organized by the social director at The Merion.”
Research studies show a positive correlation between social interaction and health and well-being among older adults, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Aging. The studies also suggest social isolation may have significant adverse effects on older adults.
The “Fill the Gap” seminars are designed to accelerate socialization and residents’ desire to be intellectual adventurers, cultural explorers and lifelong learners. The Merion takes pride in promoting a diverse culture where people can grow together, challenge each other’s thinking and develop lasting bonds of friendship.
Friendship happens naturally
“It’s always more enjoyable to share a meal, a history lecture or music programs with a friend,” says Ann Jacobs, resident at The Merion. “Someone will always join you.”
Ann moved to The Merion in mid-2018 and admits she had a little trepidation at first about social opportunities in her new setting. But she says she adapted quickly after meeting a couple of the other women at a happy hour and music performance at The Merion.
“You start talking and find out you have a lot of the same interests,” Ann says. “Happy hour is great social time. The next thing you know, you’re meeting for lunch, dinner or doing other activities together.”
“If I were still living alone in an apartment like I was previously, I would’ve just vegetated. The friendships I’ve made here mean a lot, and I enjoy it.”
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