Students and faculty from the Healthcare Studies Department at Salem State University are collaborating with Salem for All Ages to host “Salem Senior Fun Day” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 16 at the university’s South Campus Harrington Building.

Growing intergenerational friendships with others offers a unique perspective on life, which benefits each individual. Salem for All Ages is about creating a welcoming, livable and supportive community for people of all ages, abilities, and interests. Healthcare Studies is designed for students who are interested in the healthcare field, but do not wish to pursue a clinical degree. These students have the potential of one day working in various fields for the older adult population group. Salem Senior Fun Day was created to give local senior citizens and college students an opportunity to socialize with each other and form new relationships.

This is the first effort toward addressing the generation gap between young and older adults in our community. Social isolation is often a major issue for older adults. According to the U.S. Census, 11 million people age 65 and older live alone. As we age, the likelihood of this increases each year. Social contacts tend to decrease as we age because of retirement, the death of friends and family, a lack of mobility and other causes. Regardless of the causes of senior isolation, though, the consequences can be alarming and even harmful. Even perceived social isolation, the feeling of loneliness, is a constant struggle for many older adults. Isolation symptoms also tend to spread from person to person, such as friends and family, due to negative social interactions and other factors.

Another issue is ageism. Ageism is the only form of discrimination still accepted within our society. This mistreatment of seniors is occurring at a time when people who are over the age of 80 comprise the fastest-growing portion of the population in this nation. Therefore, it is so important that our society begins to look at ways to bring together young and senior generations. These relationships allow for greater learning experiences and more appreciation of one another’s knowledge and expertise. There is great benefit in looking at one another as individuals, rather than just “old” or “young.” Creating intergenerational relationships is crucial for the development of physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and social health.

Salem Senior Fun Day is a free event open to all SSU students and adults of all ages from the Salem community. It will give multiple generations an opportunity to socialize through many planned activities and enjoy some great food. Some of the entertainment will include easily accessible dance and yoga sessions led by students and staff from the Sports and Movement Science Department at SSU. There will also be music provided throughout the event. Other fun activities include cornhole, crafts, board and card games, and a gift basket raffle. Food and beverages are being provided by local restaurants, including Life Alive Organic Café, Manhattan Sandwich Company and , Adea’s. There is ample parking on site. Please RSVP to bhs@salemstate.edu by Nov. 13 or call (978) 542-3015. We are looking forward to seeing you all there!

Zachary Schoettle is a Salem State University healthcare studies major and a Salem For All Ages student intern.

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