Seniors and Substance Abuse:
A Shared Mission for Two Washington COunty Non Profit Agencies.
One family has found support and solace from what would seem to be two very different Washington County nonprofits with two very different missions. However, what has become clear to this West Bend family is both agencies provide critical support to seniors.
Tom and Carol Hanson are supporters of Senior Citizens Activities Inc. Carol shares her musical talent by playing piano as a member of a local music group, "Octet Plus 2." The group entertains at Senior Center functions. The Hansons are also supportive of Elevate Inc., another local nonprofit specializing in alcohol and other drug abuse support services.
Carol and Tom have known addiction for much of their lives. Carol first experienced it as a child when her family moved in with her alcoholic grandfather and her grandmother. As parents of two children, grandparents to four grandchildren, and great-grandparents to two more, the Hansons have seen how the disease of addiction can be passed down through the generations. They have struggled with their children’s addictions and the impact of their children’s addictive behaviors for decades.
About ten years ago, the Hansons learned about Elevate’s Family Education and Support Group while dealing with their daughter’s addiction. Tom and Carol came to a meeting and have been regular participants ever since. They rely on these group sessions to learn about the disease of addiction, how it affects the family dynamic, and most importantly, they say, to understand they can only do so much to help their loved one.
“People come to the group wanting to learn how to ‘fix’ their loved one,” Carol said. “What we learn is that no one can ‘fix’ them. They have to ‘fix’ themselves.” They also have learned the importance of taking care of themselves despite the challenges of loving an addict.
Elevate and the Senior Center have been instrumental in providing the support the Hansons need to embrace the ups and downs of life. “The Elevate Support Group has been a godsend for us,” Carol shared. “Even when things are good, we come to the meetings as you never know when you can help someone else. And being involved with the Octet Plus 2 group at the Senior Citizens Activities, Inc. brings me great pleasure and joy.”
Paula Hader, executive director of Senior Citizens Activities, Inc., is committed to raising awareness in the senior community about substance abuse. "My goal is to heighten awareness about this issue in the senior community and help break down the stigmas attached to the disease of addiction," Paula said. The partnership between the Senior Activities Center, Inc and Elevate will help accomplish this goal.