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Older Americans - Powered by Connection

Older Americans - Powered by Connection

Each May we celebrate Older Americans Month (OAM) “to recognize older Americans’ contributions, highlight aging trends, and reaffirm commitments to serving the older adults in our communities”.1 

This year’s theme, “Powered by Connection,” focuses on the profound impact that meaningful connections have on the well-being and health of older adults. It’s not just about having someone to chat with - it’s about tapping into community engagement to enhance mental, physical, and emotional well-being. 

At RRH we have been connecting seniors through various programs for years now and the impact we see on the wellness of the seniors is beyond what we even expected. Within these programs, the participants have created their own connections and support system. We often say that they have created their own family, interacting in each other’s lives, supporting one another and even having marriages arise from these programs. 

Each week RRH, in collaboration with High Desert Fitness, offers over 16 exercise classes that focus on helping seniors gain strength and mobility and emphasize balance to help them stay independent. The results have surpassed our initial focus on improving fitness and physical health. We have also witnessed profound benefits to social, emotional, and mental health. Participants often seek out these classes because they are home alone and want more interaction and they find that they connect with others and their depression and loneliness gets better. They connect in class and then take that connection outside of class through lunch dates, get togethers, and even giving one another rides. It’s truly amazing and inspiring to see community at work – coming together, connecting and supporting one another. 

The Journey to Happiness Seniors Group, facilitated by Life and Health Coach Darrell Price and sponsored by RRH (as well as partially funded through Kern County Aging and Adult Services) has had similar results. This group meets twice a month with a focus on bringing seniors together in an encouraging atmosphere that fosters building relationships, provides opportunities to learn, and helps seniors to find joy throughout the stages of life. Darrell is so full of joy himself and he provides a unique experience allowing seniors to laugh, learn, connect and feel inspired. They too will meet up outside of the program and have seen the emotional and mental health benefits of simply just connecting with each other. 

Another amazing program is Senior Services (also partially funded through Kern County Aging and Adult Services). Susan Bodnar, Director of Senior Services, has seen similar results through her programs. Senior Services is dedicated to ensuring maximum independence and dignity to the seniors of our community. From homemaker’s services, to case management, to information and referrals they are often the one source for many seniors to learn about programs and services available to them. Home visits, tea parties, dinners and other social events are also planned to help decrease loneliness and help seniors connect with one another. This program truly impacts the lives of the seniors in our community who may not have any other social or family support. 

If you are interested in any of the programs offered through RRH or you know someone who could benefit from the programs please call 760-499-3825. Together we can impact each other’s health and wellness through the simple acts of connecting to one another – this is the power of connection! 

Tera Moorehead is the Director of Community Outreach, Wellness and Philanthropy at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. With dual master’s degrees in nutrition and education, as well as a national board certified health and wellness coach, Tera shares her passion for health and wellness through various programs offered free to the community through RRH. You can contact her at 760-499-3825.