Posted by Susanne Pedersen on Nov 29, 2023
Ipswich-Rowley Rotary is about to launch a new service program of home visits with isolated older adults.  Leading this exciting initiative is club Director and Gerontologist Susanne Pedersen; our Community Services Director Chris Davis, who envisioned the program; Nathan Lemmon who is working on a training video; and President Ann Witzig.       
 
The US Surgeon General, the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute of Health (NIH), and Dr. Ruth (our first US Ambassador to Loneliness), have all recently acknowledged epidemic proportions of loneliness and isolation throughout the United States and the world.  Older adults who have difficulties leaving their homes are particularly vulnerable to isolation, loneliness, and associated health issues.
 
In response, Ipswich-Rowley Rotary is developing "Coffee with a Rotarian", a program to provide friendly, well-organized, social connections for older adults through casual home visits with coffee and conversation.  Research shows that companionship can provide social connectedness, which is not only enjoyable, but also important for one’s overall health and wellbeing.  
 
In conjunction with the Ipswich Council on Aging (COA), Rotary created a framework for the initiative and currently is working on a training program for volunteers.  As this community-based plan focuses on increasing social connectedness for older adults, it aligns perfectly with the US Surgeon General’s goals.
             
A “soft” start is scheduled for December, with a grand kickoff in January.  The initiative already has considerable momentum with 25 volunteers from Ipswich-Rowley Rotary.  All volunteers will be CORI checked, vetted, and trained.  Ipswich residents interested in receiving a friendly visit at home with coffee and conversation can sign up now through the Ipswich Council on Aging (978) 356-6650.  For more information on volunteering, inquire with coffeevisits@gmail.com.