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Celebrating International Friendship Day

Making friends is important at every age
What’s the secret to making friends?

For residents at Don Mills Seniors Apartments, it comes down to the buddy system.

As soon as someone expresses interest in moving here, they’re introduced to a resident “buddy,” who helps show the new person what it’s really like to live here, and all the fun that goes on. “The residents that volunteer as welcome buddies, they often become that new person’s first new friend,” says Don Mills Executive Director, Lynn Jennings.

The buddy program in place at Don Mills includes a unique element: an online program being piloted at the community. Using an iPad, residents communicate with their buddies, family and friends through a special program designed specifically for people who might not be familiar with computers. “It’s very simple to use,” says Jennings. Communicating through text, audio or video, residents start a virtual conversation with soon-to-move-in residents, helping them feel at home and giving them a real sense of what it’s like to live at Don Mills.
“If someone says hello, you’ve already made a friend.”
But the technology does more than connect residents with other seniors. It also provides them with a way to keep in touch with friends and family.

“We have one resident who is very quiet and private, and the only way she could communicate with her grandkids was through her daughter,” says Jennings, who tried to get her to consider using a tablet, but was denied each time. “We finally got her to come see how we use it, and now she face-times with her family all the time. It’s amazing what a difference it’s made. Because without it, she was isolated.”

Of course, making friends isn’t just about introductions and buddies. As we celebrate International Friendship Day, on July 30, it’s worth remembering the first rule of friends: simply being open to other people.

“As soon as someone says hello, open that door,” says Jennings. “Whether you’re a senior or not, if someone says hello you’ve already made a friend.”

Watch how Revera resident Verna Hibbert made new friends after moving into Windermere on the Mount in this video from The Revera and Reel Youth Age is More Film Project: