To inspire and organize teen volunteers to provide ongoing companionship and complimentary beauty makeovers to women living in senior homes.
Faye sat quietly as I greeted her. Her hands were clasped, and she didn’t move so much as a slight nod. I double-checked with the activities coordinator. “Does Faye want a makeover today?” She nodded yes.
For about an hour I smiled and chirped about school, embraced her, applied rouge on her cheeks, dabbed lipstick on her lips, and complimented her smooth skin. Faye didn’t smile once.
I left the makeover feeling like a failure – it was the first time a woman had not even smiled back at me. That evening, I received a call from the activities coordinator. I got nervous. I thought I might be in trouble. As we were discussing the makeover, the conversation turned to Faye. The coordinator informed me that Faye was the reason for her call.
She shared, “Faye had been severely depressed, and had stopped eating. It was after your makeover that she finally picked up her fork.”
Each year, Faye and millions of women like her spend time in residential care facilities across the United States, and by some estimates, 60% of them never receive visitors.
The elderly population is the fastest growing population in America. It is estimated that by 2030 about 5.3 million seniors will be living in nursing homes. According to the CDC, social ties are one of the strongest predictors of well being. Loneliness and perceived isolation are linked to diminished cognitive function and negative health outcomes. In fact, the health effects of social isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
The problem of elder isolation happens largely out of sight, as seniors are removed from their communities and placed in residential care. You probably drive by a senior home every day. Do you ever stop to think about the residents there?
Starting today, when you drive by a senior home, I hope you will think of the people who live there. Consider how much they would appreciate having a visitor stop by to care for them. To talk about prom, to find their favorite songs on youtube, to hold their hands and tell them they look beautiful.
With your help, we can work towards a solution to elder isolation and build friendships that span generations.
Rachel Doyle Boyens
Founder and CEO