A Garden Party to remember: ElderFriends and Care Teams Participants Make Creative Connections

Group Photo

Group PhotoIt was a clear bright July morning in the First Hill neighborhood where a modest community hub was being prepared to host a quaint weekend Garden Party. The guests — volunteers and participants in Full Life Care’s volunteer-based ElderFriends and Care Teams programs. Decorations in place, lavender centerpieces arranged, refreshment table overflowing, and soft music wafting, the guests began to arrive. For many it had been some time since they attended a social event, and cheerful introductions and inquisitive chatter soon flowed. As guests mingled and staff began sharing details about this location, everyone was fascinated to learn that during the weekdays the Memory Hub houses five in-house collaborators, including Full Life Care, that support and offer resources for caregivers and those they care for.

As coffee flowed and plates were filled, thanks to a donation from the Senior Care Coalition, some took a stroll through the enclosed sensory garden to enjoy varied plant and bird life. While others eagerly awaited the watercolor class facilitated by another Memory Hub collaborator, Elderwise, an arts-focused Adult Day Program for those with early to moderate stages of Dementia. As guests began to wander into a room set up with paints and brushes, watercolors and floral inspiration, Elderwise facilitator, Claire Bishop began by demonstrating the unique art technique of wet-on-wet watercolor. It didn’t take long for volunteers and clients alike to bravely begin their colorful masterpieces.

People painting watercolorsThe event offered an important opportunity for matched ElderFriends pairs and Care Teams participants to socialize with one another as well as make new connections. “These programs focus on relieving isolation, feelings of loneliness, and caregiver burnout,” shared Ginger Seybold, Director of Volunteer Programs, “Social connection is a vital component to healthy aging, and the need has only increased over the past few years. It’s rewarding to see the friendships that grow through these programs and we’re grateful for the partnerships that make it possible to offer a gathering like this.”

As with any good party the true sign that guests enjoyed themselves is how slowly they head towards the door at party’s end. For some this was the first time they had been out for a social event in quite a while, describing the enjoyment of getting dressed up and the anticipation of meeting new people. For others, it was a nice outing for clients and volunteers to share. This party’s purpose, at the heart of it, was to connect the Full Life communities of volunteers, ElderFriends, Care Teams participants and staff. To relieve isolation and loneliness and to bring back the tradition of in-person get togethers for the benefit of all.

Learn more about Volunteering with Full Life Care at https://fulllifecare.org/ways-to-give/volunteer/

The Care Teams program receives funding from the King County Seniors, Veterans and Human Services Levy.