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  • Writer's picturePerfect Pair

Pioneering a New Culture of Aging: A Recap

Over the summer, leaders from Perfect Pair had the opportunity to attend Pioneer Network’s ‘Pioneering a New Culture of Aging 2022’ Conference in Denver, Colorado. Vice Executive Director Lizzy Rueppel, Director of Operations Madison Daminato, and Director of Recruitment Edie Lerner attended the conference and participated in many different breakout sessions tailored around honoring the past, treasuring the present, and shaping the future - ideas that they have been able to reflect on and implement into their roles with Perfect Pair.

Q. What is something you learned that you are excited to bring back to Perfect Pair

A. Madison Daminato, Director of Operations

“I think one of the most important things I learned was ways to support our pairs and, specifically, our volunteers to maximize the experience. One of my favorite breakout sessions was entitled "Creating the Companion Volunteer: Recognizing a Critical Role for Volunteers" hosted by Paul Falkowski from VolunCheerLeader. In the session, Paul focused on what it meant to create an “authentic” relationship as a volunteer, ones that go on to become "companions". He emphasized that his program VolunCheerLeader emphasizes mutual recognition of humanity, the preservation of dignity, honoring uniqueness, and recognizing the potential for growth in both the volunteer and resident. These lessons are essential for Perfect Pair volunteers. We hold a high standard for our volunteers to create a commitment to consistent communication and authentic companionship. We also seek to combat stereotypes related to aging and promote anti-ageist culture – which is a really important step in creating companionship. Overall, we were so grateful to attend Paul's talk, and I will certainly take the lessons I learned from Pioneer Network and apply them to Perfect Pair!”

Q. What was the most valuable thing you learned

A. Edie Lerner, Director of Recruitment

“I think the most valuable lesson I learned is that the most important aspect to have in an organization is passion. Attending the conference and seeing how many people were so driven to push the narrative for a "new culture of aging" was inspiring. We heard a variety of perspectives in the industry and they all had a strong desire to make the lives of the people they serve better.”

Q. Reflect on one of the breakout sessions you attended and what you learned from it

A. Lizzy Rueppel, Vice Executive Director

“A breakout session that really resonated with me was entitled "The Java Project: How Residents are Addressing Loneliness in Long-Term Care" by Bonnie Lawrence, Vice President of Quality of Life for Synergy Health Care Services, and Kristine Theurer, Founder & President, of Java Group Programs. I really enjoyed this breakout session because it discussed the ways in which social isolation and loneliness are affecting most older adults living in care homes – something that Perfect Pair is aiming to alleviate. In this session, Bonnie and Kristine discussed how social isolation and loneliness impact almost every part of health, and specifically, are associated with increased falls and stress-related health ailments including hypertension, poor immune function, depression, and cognitive impairment. Additionally, the team presented that prior to the pandemic, 56-95.5% of residents reported they were lonely in 2020. This number is astonishing! Programs like Java, and Perfect Pair, share the ability to give individuals ownership and purpose and reduce loneliness. Our goal at Perfect Pair is to ultimately decrease levels of social isolation and loneliness and increase happiness through meaningful connections.”

Q. Reflect on something you learned that you can apply directly to your role

A. Lizzy Rueppel, Vice Executive Director

“Something I learned that can apply directly to my role is learning how other organizations are managed, and specifically, how quantitative data is collected. In my role as Vice Executive Director, I am eager to collect the impact of our program. Many similar programs (like the Java project) have collected results that are incredibly inspiring. I was so grateful to hear about some of the methods that various platforms that others have used to understand how their programs have changed lives. I hope to bring these skills and lessons to our project to share with the Perfect Pair community how we have quantitatively made an impact!”

Final Thoughts from our National Board:

It was an honor and privilege to represent Perfect Pair at the Pioneer Network conference. We enjoyed every moment and were enlightened with so many perspectives and new ideas to bring back to Perfect Pair!

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