Importance of Social Support for Older Adults
Humans are social creatures by nature, and we are certainly not alone in that respect. Being social is a critical element of health at any stage of life; many studies have shown that maintaining social ties with others directly contributes to improved physical and emotional well-being. However, as we age, loved ones tend to do the same, and it sometimes becomes difficult to maintain meaningful friendships due to increasing occurrences of illness, frailty, and death. Such events often lead to feelings of depression and loss, which may lead to loneliness and isolation. These emotions weaken the immune system, which even naturally tends to become weaker with age, thus contributing to a rather bleak cycle of illness and loss.
However, community programs provide a unique opportunity to enhance overall wellbeing through bonding and recreation. Gene D. Cohen, MD and geriatric psychiatry pioneer believed that aging makes a new degree of creativity achievable, and in 2001 he led a study evaluating the impact of communal art programs on the overall well-being of older adults. Over a two-year assessment period, he found the program’s participants experienced better physical and mental health, and they also became more active overall.
Senior centers offer low-pressure environments for individuals to create and maintain friendships –to give and receive social support– while also enjoying recreational activities. The Niles Senior Center offers programs such as luncheons, health education, and day trips as well as classes on topics ranging from dance, art, yoga to computer instruction. In addition, the Niles Family Services provides both individual and group counseling services to assist individuals who may be experiencing negative emotions related to a lack of social support. If you or someone you know may be interested in any of these services, please contact the Senior Center at 847-588-8420 and Family Services at 847-588-8460.
GRAND-Parenting Group - A support group for grandparents who are primary caregivers or who co-parent young family members and who want to connect with others like themselves. The group is held at Niles Community Church 7401 W. Oakton, Niles the first Wednesday of every month from 10 to 11:30am. To register or for more information, please contact Briar Gartner, Senior Social Worker at Niles Family Services, (847)-588-8474.
Join Us for the Discussion Group: Grief, Loss & Change
While this group will support people coping with grief and bereavement, we welcome participants managing other types of loss. This program is open to Niles residents only and meets the third Wednesday of each month from 3-4:30pm. Upcoming meeting dates are Nov 20 and Dec 18. There is no cost to attend the program but registration is required. Please contact Angelika Danek at 847-588-8460 for more information.
Senior Social Services
In addition to counseling and case management services, our Senior Social Work Department offers the following support groups (there is no cost to attend groups but registration is required, please call 847-588-8460):
Caregiver Group - This monthly group offers support to family and friends caring for loved ones. The group is a source of emotional help and practical guidance that provide an opportunity to relieve stress and interact with other caregivers.
Parent Group - A support group that is available for senior parents coping with the demands of caring for medically, emotionally or financially dependent adult children.
Grief and Loss Group – This group supports seniors coping with grief and bereavement as well as other types of losses.
In addition, we also offer the following service:
HERO Program - Niles Helping Elders through Referral and Outreach (HERO) is a community-based system for identifying and helping older adults at-risk physically, emotionally, socially or financially. If you are concerned about a senior who you feel may benefit from social work outreach, you can make a confidential referral by calling and saying, "I want to make a HERO referral."
For information on Senior Social Work services and support, please contact Angelika Danek, Senior Social Work Coordinator at (847) 588-8460.