Ending Elder Isolation through Makeovers?

shutterstock_66447445Many senior living communities provide on-site beauty services, so seniors can continue to look and feel their best. Some communities are fortunate enough to enjoy the services of GlamourGals, a nonprofit organization that inspires and equips teen volunteers across the country to provide ongoing companionship and complimentary makeovers to women living in senior homes.

Rachel Doyle, founder and CEO of the GlamourGals Foundation, shares how these makeovers are connecting generations and making a difference in the lives of seniors as well as teens.

More Than a Makeover 

Each month, GlamourGals volunteers visit senior communities to provide manicures and makeovers to residents, but their purpose is more than skin deep.

“During these visits, seniors share their life stories and offer advice to teen volunteers,” says Doyle. “Our volunteers share how valuable these connections are to them. They are excited for the opportunity to learn from the older generation, and benefit from the wisdom of experience the seniors have to share. Through these exchanges, new and unique friendships are formed.” 

Lasting Friendships

Belinda, a teen volunteer from Queens, NY, shares fond memories of monthly visits with her dear friend Muriel at Atria Forest Hills:

“With each makeover, our conversations get a bit longer, our laughter gets louder, and our time spent together is cherished even more than I can imagine,” says Belinda. “Muriel has blossomed into someone who is more than a frequent participant in our makeovers; she has bloomed into a friend I can chat with about anything, a mentor who can guide me through my struggles, and an inspiration for me to follow.”

Carly, a volunteer from Long Island, NY, remained in contact with the same senior even after graduating from high school, visiting Gloria at Maple Pointe at Rockville Centre over a span of six years. After learning of Gloria’s passing, Carly shares:

“Gloria was a source of confidence and encouragement. She made me see myself differently—as someone who mattered and who could make a difference. Our friendship was important to both of us and brought us both tremendous joy.” 

Benefits for Seniors

shutterstock_317379281Clearly, generations find tremendous value through this connection. At Bright Side Manor, an Assisted Living community in Teaneck, NJ, GlamourGals volunteers bring joy into the lives of residents and staff alike.

“They smile, they engage, they talk… The women love having their hands touched, they love the end results with the nails, and they love talking to a younger generation,” says an activities director at the community.

Recently, GlamourGals volunteered alongside its partner, BeautiControl’s Women Helping Others Foundation in Dallas, visiting seniors at Brookdale Farmers Branch in Farmers Branch, TX.

“Our residents are still talking about the wonderful time they had,” writes Suzie Powell, sales counselor/move-in coordinator at Brookdale, which offers Assisted Living and Memory Care. “Thanks for making them feel so special.”

Benefits for the Younger Generation

The young women benefit just as much as the older women from their time together.

“The intergenerational interaction at GlamourGals makeovers not only allows teens to meet women and hear their incredible stories, but it also gives them an opportunity to develop communication skills, leadership experience, maturity, and confidence,” says Doyle. “Teens learn compassion and how to better connect with others, especially those of a different generation.”

In addition, Doyle says that some teens discover their passion through these relationships, and choose to pursue careers in the medical field, social work, or geriatric psychology. 

Lasting Results

In a 2016 survey of senior homes, 100 percent of the activities directors reported a noticeably positive difference in the mood of the seniors when their GlamourGals chapter visited. What’s more, 81 percent stated that seniors formed individual relationships with the volunteers and maintained an ongoing friendship.

“Many activities directors stressed that the seniors loved the individual attention,” says Doyle. “Seniors anticipate the events, ask for the girls when they are not there, and beam about their manicures even hours after the chapters leave. For them, it’s not a scheduled time to get a manicure, but a time to talk with the girls and catch up with each other’s daily lives.”

Take it from Irma, a ninety-one-year-old senior home resident:

“The volunteers love to hear us tell about the good ole days, and we love knowing what’s going on in their lives. I walk out of there looking gorgeous, and then I enjoy treating the girls to root beer floats for their time.”

shutterstock_226062625If your loved one would like to benefit from this program, ask the senior living facility you’re considering if a local GlamourGals chapter visits the community. If not, encourage the community to complete a free registration in the GlamourGals senior home database. 

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