Loneliness in senior citizens is a growing problem that can have profound health implications. Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for various physical and mental conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety disorders and even premature death.
A University of California, San Francisco study found that more than 40% of seniors regularly experience loneliness. Fortunately, there are ways to help combat loneliness in seniors. For instance, keeping in touch with loved ones and participating in group activities can reduce feelings of sadness and isolation. In addition, researchers have found that older adults who receive flowers have reduced feelings of loneliness and depression, which may lead to improved cognitive abilities and more meaningful connections with those around them.
With this in mind, a florist in the tiny town of Virgie, Kentucky, found a way to help elderly neighbors feel loved and cared for on Valentine’s Day. The shop started a program in 2022, asking neighbors and social media followers to sponsor bouquets for residents of nearby nursing homes. The program was a success.
Here’s a Facebook post from that first campaign, which provided flowers in bud vases for 96 residents of Parkview Nursing and Rehab Center.
In 2023, Reed Family Floral’s owner Evan Sykes hopes to make more of an impact. He shared a new post on Facebook asking followers to sponsor residents at three assisted living facilities.
“It’s time for our absolute favorite community outreach project — adopt a resident!” Sykes wrote. “We have 230 smiling faces to sponsor this year. Last year we handed bud vases to 96 residents at Parkview Nursing Home. It was such a hit that we’ve decided to add Pikeville Nursing Home and Cedar Creek Assisted Living this year! If you could see the smiles on the resident’s faces as the flowers are handed to them, you would understand why we do this.”
Supporters donate $15.99 for each resident they want to sponsor, and the florist will send a red rose with greenery in a bud vase tied up with a bow along. The gift will include a card saying who the rose is from. As of Jan. 9, all residents were sponsored, so Sykes has decided to add a fourth nursing home to the list.
“My great-grandmother was in a nursing home and I saw how lonely they are,” Sykes told the Appalachian News Express. “I just thought this would be a good way to bring joy to them.”
To become a sponsor, you can call the shop at 606-639-8212. Reed Family Floral also accepts Venmo (Evan-Sykes-3) and PayPal (Reedfamilyfloral@gmail.com).
If you’re unable to sponsor but still want to make a difference, the florist has some good advice.
“I encourage everyone — even if you don’t have the financial means to sponsor a bud vase — just get out and visit your local residents,” Sykes told WYMT. “Do anything you can to bring them joy.”