Expanding Our Friendship Circle

Published in The Filipino Press
Written by: Aurora S. Cudal c. 2019

Mental health experts as well as gerontologists or those who are engaged in the science of aging and longevity say that one of the best ways to prevent depression among the elderly is to expand your circle of friends and to socialize and reach out to others. As one who is definitely advancing in age, I try my best to be active, to reach out to others, and to meet new friends. I would like to remain mentally alert, physically fit, emotionally stable and socially connected. Theseare the reasons why I decided to participate in the Open Arms Adult Health Day Care Center program. Of course, there are other Adult Health Day Care Centers in the County of SanDiego, I encouraged my peers with chronic ailment and other health challenges to look into this invaluable health resource, if they would like to live the remaining days of their lives in a convivial and caring environment.

My husband and I are fetched every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30 AM by a van driven by Brendan, who makes our day by treating us like royalty, seeing to it that we will not stumble or fall. Peter. who is visually impaired likes to hear Brendan say, “wait for your lovely wife.” He says it is music to his ears to hear the compliment. On the other hand, I just smile and say “thank you.”

One morning, upon our arrival in the Center, I found two cups of hot coffee on our table. I wondered if the coffee was for us. I asked Christine, our table-mate and she smilingly said, “I prepared them for you and Peter.” I smiled with gratitude in my heart for the unexpected kindness I received from a fellow program participant. That truly made my day!

We are becoming comfortable in our new environment. Our friendship circle is expanding and we are beginning to feel at home and at ease for we are surrounded by good and friendly people. On the other and, Peter is starting to enjoy some of the activities which one may consider as “kindergarten stuff”, but which are actually helpfulin establishing rapport with the staff as well as with the other program participants.

I am now enjoying the game of Bingo, a game I did not appreciate before I came to the Center. But when a gerontology friend told me that it is helpful in maintaining my focus and alertness, I saw Bingo in a new light. I’ve been accumulating points which makes me eligible to receive practical rewards such as paper tissues, paper towels and bath soap. Well, we can buy all these, but the excitement of having won them in a game makes you feel that you are still alert and responsive to your environment.

We now feel that we are growing old gracefully amidst a healthy environment. Of course, there are distractions, but we take them as ways of developing patience and tolerance. Our interaction with new friends sometimes challenges our mindset but it makes us look into our selves and feel in our hearts that old age is not an easy stage of life and we just praise God that we are still alive enjoying His provisions and the company of others. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

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