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Senior man sitting in front of a brick wall and plants, smiling with glasses and a white collard shirt.

Golden Connections

How Our Men’s Group Creates Lasting Friendships

Social interaction and friendship are like life’s secret sauce after you retire. Feeling included can have many benefits that profoundly enhance well-being and overall quality of life. As we age, staying socially active and fostering meaningful connections becomes more than just a source of joy and companionship—it becomes a cornerstone of physical and mental health. These interactions provide emotional support, combat loneliness and depression, sharpen cognitive faculties and promote physical activity. All this helps support a more vibrant existence in our golden years. Friendship and social engagement are essential for both men and women, so at Westerwood, we make sure men have plenty of opportunities to spend meaningful time together.

 

Meet Allan Colgan

When it comes to creating space for gathering, Westerwood resident Allan Colgan is a seasoned professional. After moving to Westerwood last year, he noticed that our men’s group had gone defunct during the pandemic and needed a jump start. Thankfully, Allan worked in nursing home administration before retirement, so he—better than anyone—understands the value of interpersonal connections for seniors. Throughout his career, he’s seen first-hand how much friendship can add to the lives of men.

“When I first moved to Westerwood, I noticed they had a thriving women’s group but no men’s group. Working in other communities and discussion groups helped keep the mind sharp. Socializing can slow down the progression of some memory disorders. Sharing memories and experiences or listening to guest speakers promotes cognitive health. So we meet once a week, and I have one guest speaker per month lined up through December,” Allan explained.

 

Making Space for Connections

If there’s a will, there’s a way at Westerwood. That’s how the new men’s group came to be. If residents notice a need for something, we empower them to bring forth their ideas, and we encourage them to start any club or activity they want.

“The philosophy at Westerwood is that if you see a need for an activity, there’s nothing to stop you from trying to start it,” Allan explained.

When Allan wanted to reboot the men’s group, all he did was write a proposal and send it over to our Lifestyle Director, Kristin Kullburg. She helped him promote the group and thanks to their collaboration, the group has only grown in popularity since the first meeting earlier this year.

Allan is a joiner by nature and brought that with him to Westerwood. After his wife passed, he found ways around campus to channel his grief and to inspire those around him experiencing the same situation to spend time with friends and neighbors.

“I choose to be active because it helped me in my grieving process. By keeping busy, I maintain my sanity a little bit,” Allan says with a smile.

“I still have moments. A memory will pop up, and then, you know, I have to deal with it. And I always try to be available if people ever need to talk. I think another big reason I’m so involved is because of my previous careers. I was an ordained minister for 23 years and a nursing home administrator for 10,” he says.

And to say he’s involved is a bit of an understatement. Allan listed a few things he participates in, not including the time he devotes to the men’s group. “I’m the chairman of the residence buildings and grounds committee, I’m on the landscaping committee, I’m on the marketing committee, I volunteered a week ago to be the chairman of the holiday fund (a fundraising effort to show thanks to our staff for their service), I’m on a 4-week rotation to call bingo one day a month, and sometimes I work as a cashier in our little store that we have at Westerwood.”

 

A Bright Future at Westerwood

So, what’s next for the men’s group at Westerwood? You’ll have to ask Allan but suffice it to say, group members are in for some unique local history.

“Our first speaker gave us the history of the Columbus Clippers (minor league baseball), and he went back into the 1880s and brought us up to date. Then in May, our second speaker went into history a little bit more like four or five million years ago and brought in rocks, fossils and things from all over,” Allan said of past speakers.

The next speaker is a retired fireman and paramedic. He has nearly 40 years of experience with the Columbus Fire Department. He was involved with the book 200 Years of the Columbus Fire Department, which came out last summer and is available through the publisher’s website.

With reliably outgoing neighbors like Allan, Westerwood offers more than just a place to live. Here, you’ll find a sense of belonging. If you’re considering senior living but aren’t sure where to start, visit Westerwood and see why many residents thrive here. Schedule your visit by calling (614) 568-0503.



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