Senior Village at SaddleBrooke – Neighbors helping Neighbors

Village volunteer Bonnie Barazani prepares her specialty biscotti.

Cheerful May Baskets

Stephanie Thomas

What do butterflies, flower buds, and SaddleBrooke residents have in common? Answer: They are all bursting forth with new spring energy. To celebrate SaddleBrooke’s post-vaccination emergence, Senior Village wanted to spread much-needed cheer to randomly selected members by delivering May baskets, provided by a special gift fund.

Friendly Contact and Fun with Friends team leaders, Peggy Ogier and Lois Violanti, divided the basket project into three phases: cookie baking, basket prep, and deliveries. They enlisted Bonnie Barazani and Jeanne Ragan to coordinate the work of the volunteers. The four organizers agreed that the best part of this project was “putting smiles on people’s faces, which hadn’t had smiles for the past year.”

Senior Village volunteers and other community residents gathered mixing bowls, measuring spoons, and ingredients and prepared dozens of favorite recipes—sugar, molasses, and chocolate chip cookies, almond wafers, brownies, Oreo balls, biscotti, and breads like blueberry, date, and banana. What a heavenly assortment!

On May 1, it was time to prepare the baskets. In addition to baked goodies, tables were crowded with items such as lotions and sanitizers, pens and notepads, packets of greeting cards made by the Card Crafters Club, homemade strawberry jam from the farmers market, decorated paper purses with jelly beans or a small atlas slipped inside, and tea towels. Each basket contained an assortment of items, with a festive bow and a card to the recipient addressed in eloquent calligraphy.

Beginning at 3:30 p.m., 17 volunteer drivers picked up their gift baskets and cookie boxes for delivery. They spent the afternoon visiting the selected Senior Village members, saying hello, presenting the baskets, and sharing in the fun of digging into the basket surprises.

Uplifting spirits is one of the goals of Senior Village, whether it be by providing transportation, handling fix-it projects around the house, hooking up electronics, or simply bringing joy to members.

As one Village recipient commented, “We can’t imagine how much effort went into creating all of those things…[We] are so, so appreciative for the ‘Random Act of Kindness’ from Senior Village. There is so much goodness in the world, and you are a part of that.”

If you would like to be a member of Senior Village, call 520-314-1042. Annual dues are $60 for a single and $96 for a household. To register as a volunteer, go online to Donations may be sent to the 501(c)(3) Senior Village at PO Box 8584 Tucson, AZ 85738.

How Well Have Seniors Coped During COVID?

Suzanne Marlatt Stewart

Without a doubt, this past year has proven to be difficult. Many have had friends or family members die from COVID, others have lost employment, and, for many, being isolated for so long has certainly been a factor.

There have been many recent research studies that have resulted from the pandemic, and overwhelmingly, seniors have been the most resilient, coping better than any other age group. Older people tend to be positioned exceptionally well to handle life’s challenges. Wisdom is the gift of time.

Seniors tailor their strategies to reduce stress, according to Patrick Klaiber, a Ph.D. student in psychology at the University of British Columbia, one of several researchers behind the diary-based study. “This is something that has been found in a lot of past research… older people tend to recognize which stressful situations are ones that can be changed, and which are ones that can’t. And they use different approaches depending on the answer.”

A positive approach that allows us to just let go and be flexible recognizes what we can’t change and instead changes how we think about the situation. We might also focus on seeking out positive feelings and experiences to offset the stress, rather than eliminate it. This is something, Klaiber’s research says, older people excel at. Dealing with stress is a skill that can be improved and developed over the course of a lifetime. “Older adults have a certainty that stressful situations will not last forever and better times will come, which makes sense because they’ve lived longer,” says Klaiber.

Contrary to stereotypical ideas about older people, the AgeWave/Edward Jones study found that while physical health declines with age, mental health actually tends to improve over a lifetime.

Four resilience strategies used by older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Focusing on the quality (not quantity) of relationships.

Loneliness and isolation have been a primary concern related to seniors during COVID. Yet, researchers have found that for older adults experiencing isolation, having close or meaningful relationships was most important. Quality over quantity.

2. Tapping into wisdom and compassion. Researchers identify wisdom as a complex personality trait that includes pro-social behaviors like empathy and compassion, the ability to self-reflect, decisiveness while accepting uncertainty, and diversity of perspectives, social advising, and spirituality.

3. Maintaining a regular schedule. For seniors this includes hobbies, chores, work, or exercise. Maintaining a routine offers many benefits. It helps to provide a sense of security and predictability; it helps to reduce stress and anxiety and has the added benefit of helping to sleep better at night.

4. Focusing on immediate surroundings and needs without thinking beyond the present.

Meditation and mindfulness have been shown to help slow memory loss and the development of dementia-related diseases. It helps people cope better with anxiety and stress and helps to reduce loneliness. Just sitting and enjoying the quiet is a technique that many older adults have acquired.

Researchers say younger generations could stand to learn much from their senior elders in how to deal with stress, have positive experiences in the face of adversity, and embrace gratitude. Remember, we’re not alone on this journey. Seniors have shown us that during difficult times we can continue to persevere with the support of loved ones, mindfulness and self-compassion, and following a healthy routine lifestyle.

Rev. Suzanne, a resident of SaddleBrooke, is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained non-denominational in 1988, representing all faiths; her focus is inclusive. You can email her at [email protected].

Billiards Tournament Offers Summer Excitement

Diane Demeroutis

Run, walk, or drive to the Catalina Rec Center to purchase your raffle tickets for a tournament sponsored by the Pool Players of The Brooke. The billiards club is holding a tournament and raffle on June 26 for Senior Village in appreciation of their COVID-19 vaccination project, which benefited the SaddleBrooke community.

Dominic Borland, a member of Pool Players of The Brooke, said the group was established in 2016 for fun. From their inception, they wanted to support a local charity. This will be Pool Players of The Brooke’s first fundraiser and first SaddleBrooke club fundraising event.

The open tournament will feature four tables with 16 players at the Catalina Rec Center on Ridgeview. Purchase tickets for the raffle weekdays at the Catalina Rec Center between noon and 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 each or three for $25. Tickets are also available from Dominic or Janette Borland, Steve Horagon, or Joe Giammarino. Payment may be made by check or cash but not with credit cards.

All raffle proceeds go to the Senior Village at SaddleBrooke, and you do not need to be present to win.

Senior Village at SaddleBrooke is a volunteer non-profit organization providing services to its members. Transportation, social activities, lockbox installation, help around the house and yard are just some of the many amenities Senior Village provides.

This is a win-win for you, a chance at fabulous prizes while supporting a worthy local SaddleBrooke charity. Raffle prizes include:

* McDermott M33A Cue Stick ($449 value)

* Two golf cart tune-ups

* $100 Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar gift card

* $100 SaddleBrooke One gift card

Mark your calendar, the tournament will be held June 26 at 1 p.m. at the Catalina Rec Center. The drawing for raffle items is June 26 at 5 p.m. at SaddleBrooke One Agave Lounge at the back bar.