Older adult isolation is a serious issue with devastating health effects. 28% of, or 11 million, older Americans are at risk for isolation and its negative consequences, including lung disease, arthritis, impaired mobility, cognitive decline, depression – and early death. Isolation essentially means a lack of social contact, and is on the rise as we become increasingly more dependent on technology for social interaction. The Best Day of My Life So Far can reduce the risk of these health problems in an older adult’s life by removing the root cause of isolation through meaningful and sustainable social interactions.
The cognitive, psychological, and physical health benefits of our program have been expressed by participants through numerous testimonials; reported by site supervisors through consistent impact reports; published in professional journals and presented at national and international conferences by professional researchers in the psychology, social work, family studies, gerontology fields; featured on TV and radio, and in numerous blogs, magazines, newspapers, books; recognized by numerous social change awards; and personally endorsed by the president of the AARP Foundation. Additionally, practicing psychologists often refer patients to our program as a component of their mental health treatment plans.
Year in Review: 2017
Here are some of our latest initiatives and achievements:
1| To date, we have built 18 pilot sites in 5 states using our research backed, AARP endorsed, internationally recognized storytelling group model.
2| This year, we completed the production of a comprehensive online Toolbox for individuals and care providers who want to set up Best Day groups wherever they are. The Toolbox contains training materials and forms for reporting back to our program team.
3| We created a professional development program, called Story Cure, that combines online and in-person training modules and events to share our methods with entire communities or networks of professional care providers.
4| We optimized the performance of Story Cure participants by creating the Council of Intergenerational Leadership to recognize outstanding professionals and venues.
5| We launched the Toolbox, Story Cure Program, and Council in unison, in partnership with LIFE-NWPA. Here is a look at the experience and here are some of the smiles we were able to put on older adults’ faces throughout Northwestern Pennsylvania.
6| Story by story, “brick by brick,” this year we built a digital national Library, curating older adults’ stories from locally focused blogs that we have maintained since 2009.
7| This year, we have also hosted 3 public events in 3 cities, which have been featured in regional papers such as this Courier Post article, and on NBC and CBS.
8| We have also written a nationally scalable, regionally focused expansion plan which, in collaboration with regional healthcare partners, will improve social connectedness and mental and physical healthcare for thousands of older adults per year. (Feel free to ask us for details.)
9| To increase organizational capacity and provide full accountability of our finances to donors, we engaged CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia for their administrative and fiscal management services.
10| Most importantly, we continue to grow our intergenerational community fueled by a genuine love of life and love of people. This unmistakable Best Day spirit is alive not only at all our storytelling group sessions, but also in our lovingly curated newsletters and social media content, and at all our professional and public events.