By Cynthia Germain
At least one Sturgeon Bay Church is helping senior citizens deal with loneliness. Research has shown that a fair percentage of seniors experience loneliness and local churches are the first defense in filling the gap. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 11 million, or 28% of people aged 65 and older, lived alone at the time of the census. Living alone however does not necessarily translate to loneliness as a UCSF study demonstrated with two-thirds of the older adults who said that they were lonely were either married or living with a partner of some kind. This finding lends credence to the belief that it’s not about how many relationships you have, it’s about how meaningful they are. Richard Feyen, minister of Hope United Church in Sturgeon Bay, says that their church, like many in the area, bridge the need with in-home visits as well as hosted group activities.
In 2016, a report based on community conversations about aging in Door County was released and some of the most notable outcomes were the need for connection with neighbors and social opportunities that are diverse and intergenerational. Feyen says that his church also strives to bring their youth ministry together with other church activities towards this effort but more can be done in the churches and the community in general to offer opportunities for older adults to lessen social isolation and maintain meaningful relationships.