Seniors At Christmas – Reducing The Isolation


4d046ca1a7e3d.preview-300Growing up with the Chamorro culture in Guam, afforded a great experience to me.  It is a culture where its senior citizens are taken care of and respected as an integral part of the family and the community.

I had the privilege of growing up with my grandparents and a great-grandparent or two.   It afforded me a sense of a family legacy that became a part of me and shaped me as a person.  Taking care of the elderly was an expectation with not an after thought.

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I now live in San Francisco where the non-profit organization I work for called Openhouse serves the senior citizens of the LGBT community.   This population segment is especially vulnerable to living in sever isolation with no sense of family and community.  Many of them come from that generation where they were exiled or kicked out of their biological families because of their sexual orientation.

Like most senior citizens in an urban era, as old age comes and youth disappear, they feel like there’s  no place for them.   Organizations like Openhouse are doing what they can to help with housing, medical  and social services. There is also building community and reducing the isolation that these people find themselves trapped by participating in volunteer programs.

Like my native culture, those of us in the urban culture can reach out to the elderly through the various non-profits that serve them in the community.  There are ways to do house visits, volunteer at their events and generally engage them.  This inter-generational connection is vital to the health of any city or community.

Especially during this holiday season, when seniors may feel isolation the most, take the time to give and volunteer.  It will bring you the true spirit of the season as you give of yourselves and time to these wonderful people.   I found that these seniors give me more than I can ever give them. They have wisdom and life lessons.  They connect me to a history that helps me live my present and look forward to the future.

They gave much so we can enjoy the lives we have now.  Let us not forget them.  Tis the season!

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