Nashville is home to many senior citizens who are refugees from around the world. These delightful seniors have overcome a myriad of obstacles but are still at risk due to changing roles, language difficulties and loss of their native community. In many cases refugee elders depend on their children to provide help, yet their children adapt to new roles more quickly resulting in their elderly parents feeling isolated both at home and in their community.
With the support of Baptist Healing Trust and United Way, the Refugee Elders Program provides support services in a group format to assist elders as they adjust to life in the United States. Services take place 3 days a week and include ESL instruction, social acclimation and recreational activities. Special emphasis is placed on health and wellness. ESL, with a certified instructor, provides a foundation while field trips, physical exercise, arts and games encourage socialization, self-sufficiency and acculturation. Collaborations with the Frist Center, East Park Community Center, Belmont Nursing School, Vanderbilt Coalition for Healthy Aging and other organizations offer the Elders many ways to connect with their new community.
For those Elders who are not able to participate in group activities, American Friends provide one-on-one ESL instruction and other acculturation activities.
We currently have participants in this program from Cuba, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Bhutan.