Addressing Mental Health and Emotional Wellness through Support Groups

August 3, 2022

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the topics of mental health and emotional wellness are closer to the forefront than ever before. Many seniors still feel the effects of the pandemic, and despite being one of the largest demographics in the U.S., they are all too often left out of the discussion.

La Posada, however, looks to change the conversation about mental health and emotional wellness for seniors. When they realized that many residents still struggled with feelings of isolation and anxiety exacerbated by the pandemic, the community began to develop several men’s and women’s groups within the community. These new support groups offer comfort, guidance, and social connection for any resident who needs additional support.

As a Kisco senior living community, La Posada encourages their residents to master the Art of Living Well, a lifestyle philosophy ingrained in daily life within the community through programming and amenities that allow residents to master multiple dimensions of wellness including intellectual stimulation, culture and so much more.

It is this philosophy that laid the groundwork for the initial implementation of La Posada’s senior support groups. Noel Trachtenberg, resident and previous Chair of the Independent Living Health Committee at La Posada, first presented the idea after noticing a need for residents within the community to develop deeper social connections and friendships during the height of the pandemic. Although certain restrictions were lifted by the end of 2020, Trachtenberg and the committee recognized that many residents continued to self-isolate for months.

“We recognized the necessity to form support groups for our fellow residents,” says Trachtenberg. “In addition to effects from the pandemic, we realized many residents needed support, especially if they were recently widowed or had a spouse in memory care.”

La Posada currently facilitates four groups for residents – two women’s groups and two men’s groups, each with various levels of structure for mental and emotional wellness.

DeeAnn Vera guides the Women’s Circles. Vera is a professional who first began working with the community to bring new and unique classes that allow residents to explore their creativity. While conducting these classes, Vera took notice of an untapped potential to connect women in the community on a more intentional level.

Since the beginning of the women’s circles, Vera used her background in counseling to guide the group discussions, enabling the female residents to be social and have fun, all while creating a safe space for them to address topics that affect most seniors, such as downsizing, grief, community living, and maintaining a sense of purpose.

Similarly, mental health professional Dr. Andrea Stripling, a clinical psychologist in West Palm beach, directs the men’s groups. In addition to designating a space for the male residents to interact and bond, these groups clear the way for conversations that aren’t typical of men’s social circles. While seniors of both sexes experience comparable issues, in general, men usually find it more challenging to delve into their emotions and discuss delicate topics.

Since the community implemented these programs, they’ve seen more residents within the community bond closely within their structured discussions, prompting them to extend those friendships into attending events and activities within the community together, and even forming their own support groups. Additionally, the La Posada team is exploring options to make these meetings even more accessible across the community by offering sessions over Zoom for residents who are unable to attend in person.

In addition to support groups, La Posada also provides monthly wellness calendars filled with more than 40 weekly activities that address multiple facets of wellness, including mental, physical, emotional, social, financial, and more.