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Fort Myers seniors get a Valentine’s Day surprise

Residents of Renaissance Preserve Senior Apartments were surprised with stuffed animals, friendly conversation and a lot of laughter to brighten their spirits on Valentine’s Day.

The mood-lifting occasion was the result of a partnership between Florida Senior Consulting, Senior Friendship Centers and the National Honor Society chapter at Fort Myers High School. Students collected dozens of new stuffed animals – dogs, cats, teddy bears and cartoon characters – to help curtail feelings of loneliness on the holiday.

“We realize that not everybody has somebody here and they wanted to be able to share the love specifically on Valentine’s Day,” said Elisa Grossman, a special education teacher at Fort Myers High School and adviser to National Honor Society members. “This was the highlight of their day.”

“Being able to take youth in our community and connect them with elders in our community is great for both,” added Scott Miller, founder and CEO of Florida Senior Consulting, which coordinated the surprise along with Senior Friendship Centers. “They can get wisdom from the seniors and the youthful exuberance spills over, and the seniors get all excited about the opportunity to meet with kids.”

Florida Senior Consulting, the state’s largest privately-owned care management and placement firm, provides expertise in family assistance, case management, education, senior living selection and placement, and ongoing advocacy. Senior Friendship Centers offers services and programs such as adult day services, activity centers, caregiving resources, healthy meals, exercise classes, volunteer opportunities, lifelong learning, support groups, economic assistance and more. Senior Friendship Centers offers a dining program at Renaissance Preserve Senior Apartments, which is managed by The Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers.

The Valentine’s Day teddy bear surprise was the first initiative between the agencies and school.

“Elder loneliness is a real thing,” Miller said. “Elder isolation is known to be a cause of decline, and having seniors be engaged with people in the community and being supported, feeling like they’re part of something, is vital to their wellness and wellbeing.”

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