What could have been done to prevent the recent tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Did the gunman, Adam Lanza, receive proper care for his Asperger’s syndrome. What does the tragedy say about the current state of mental health care. What does it have to say about family and faith?
These were just a few of the questions asked during a broader discussion of health care issues at a recent meeting of Probus II, Redwood Terrace’s bimonthly discussion group.
Some of the subjects the group takes on are “really hot-button issues” concerning life and society, says Allen Bryan, the community’s chaplain and the one who initiated the group a year ago with the help of resident Russ Stevens. The group has probed issues of family, faith, trust, fear and civil discourse in contemporary society.
“Everyone opens up and discusses what they know through their own personal experiences without judgment,” says Bryan. “Some of the experiences are hurtful and negative, and others are positive. But through these discussions, residents create a bond and trust.”
To get the conversation started, Bryan frames the subject using various tools, including consumer surveys and infographics. During a meeting on loneliness, the residents took an AARP test on loneliness, then gauged their answers based on the 10-question exam.
For the discussion on health care and mental health, they tackled questions posed in the book “Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer,” by Shannon Brownlee. The conversation including sharing their own challenges with doctors and medical care.
“We discuss some very interesting topics you wouldn’t find anyone discussing anywhere else,” says resident Betty Brill. “And our discussions seldom carry beyond the table.”
Bryan and Stevens started the group early last year after having a conversation about how to create a space where residents could get better acquainted. Stevens also desired a place where he and his fellow residents could have open, honest conversations about important current societal issues.
“He even asked me if this is something a chaplain would be interested in doing,” says Bryan. “I told him that my role is to help deepen the spirituality of all people so that they may be empowered, given hope and reconciled regardless of what programs, platforms, paradigms or perspectives they have.”
Stevens’ response was to give Bryan a long list of residents who he thought might help get Probus off the ground. “The whole thing has just grown from there,” says Bryan.
Twenty-two residents now attend the bimonthly meetings. Ground rules include no arguing, listening to everyone’s views and asking for clarification to understand how others arrived at their conclusions.
“Everyone is very frank, but also very tolerant,” says Brill. “I believe that’s the reason these discussions work.”…
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