Imagine, for a moment, being unable to share a meal, laughter or even just a few words with another person - for days at a time. This is the daily reality for seniors across Chicago who are living without support from family and friends.
For lonely and isolated men and women 70 years of age and older, Little Brothers fills the role of loved ones. Our volunteers and staff call to check in, plan visits and outings, and celebrate life together at birthdays, the holidays, and all year-round.
Little Brothers' programs offer a shortcut to friendship. Seniors who may not have two personal conversations in a month can connect and meet new friends - each other, and Little Brothers' dedicated volunteers and staff. From our weekly Coffee Club, where elders meet to share conversation, coffee, and breakfast, to our Summer in the City program, which allows elders to explore, enjoy and relax in Chicago, every activity is built around opportunities for seniors to experience the warmth of friendship.
We know loneliness can be as deadly to seniors as obesity or smoking. Numerous studies have shown that elders who are lonely are at greater risk for cognitive decline, depression, and elevated blood pressure. Recent research has shown chronic loneliness even impairs the immune system's ability to fight infections.
And we also know that life's sweet pleasures are as essential as life's basic necessities. Spending time together combats loneliness for our elders and reveals the deep meaning of connection for our elders and volunteers alike.
"I'm very thankful because I don't have family - all my close family are gone. So now Thanksgiving and Christmas, those are days I try to keep occupied because I'd be alone. Before, I'd be thankful and happy with what I had. I would stay home and pray and maybe have something light for dinner. I'd try to help or give back to others at the holidays, but there wasn't a feeling of being included. I came to your Christmas Party, and it just opened up my world." Joy, 72
"My favorite part about celebrating Christmas with Little Brothers is that I got a family. God gave me a family. I'm being loved at Christmastime. When I'm with Little Brothers, it's a family day." Larry, 80
"I can't believe what Little Brothers has done for me. Losing all my family and loads of friendsâ€¦ As you lose friends, how do you replace them? First of all, no one can be replaced, but to make a good, real new friend, you have to show all of yourself exactly how you are. When you're aged, you're aware that you're limited in doing so." Bill, 86
Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly is a national network of non-profit, volunteer-based organizations committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. We offer to people of goodwill the opportunity to join the elderly in friendship and celebration of life.