This great post from The New Old Age blog profiles a “Men’s Group,” much like the run we have been running in Elderhaven for years!
“What’s on your minds today, gentlemen?” Paul Heron, a social worker, asked the circle of men. That’s the way he convenes most Wednesday afternoon gatherings of the Riverdale Senior Services center’s men’s group.
Joe Asher, at 94 the eldest at this day’s session, had the war in Afghanistan on his mind. “They don’t want us there,” he declared. “Our nation is going bankrupt. I say, cut the cord now. Leave, like we did in Vietnam.”
“Vietnam did not bomb the World Trade Center,” Dave Roskind responded.
And they were off.
The center, housed in a Bronx apartment building, introduced this antidote to isolation two years ago. Women who came here for meals and activities seemed to naturally fall into impromptu discussions, the center’s director, Julia Schwartz-Leeper, had noticed. Men either clung to their wives or, if they arrived solo, sat by themselves.
The men themselves observed that uncommunicative pattern, though they didn’t quite know how to alter it. “The average woman has about six friends,” explained Dr. George Kaufman, one of those attending the Wednesday session. “The average man has one, a wife or girlfriend, and if he loses her, he’s up a creek.”
“Women have a network,” Mr. Asher agreed. “Someone gets on the phone with my wife and they talk for half an hour. Men don’t do that.”
Here, they do. Four showed up the first time Mr. Heron assembled the group, in a room with a closed door; now it routinely draws 16 to 18 retired teachers and lawyers and small-business owners, many of them veterans, all over 60 and most over 70.