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Every Tuesday you’ll find a group of men and women from different backgrounds sitting in the theater at Waltonwood Lake Boone (a premier senior living community). They aren’t there to see me a movie, instead they get together to engage in a conversation based on a simple question, such as: How were historic churches built? That conversation was sparked after the recent fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in France. The conversations are part of a new activity the senior living community started called Socrates Café which keeps seniors minds sharp and promotes socialization. George Dramis, 94, is one of nearly a dozen residents who attends each week. The World War II veteran was intrigued by the class when he heard about it and now encourages everyone to come up with the discussion topic each week. He says they never discuss politics or religion, and they leave each week with expanded knowledge of things they didn’t know before. 

“Getting together each week to have a discussion is rewarding. There is a sense of camaraderie that reminds me of being in the Army,” said Dramis. “I thoroughly enjoy going to Socrates Café. I have learned things I never knew and have become closer to other residents at the community. It is something I look forward to each week. No matter what the topic is, we never get argumentative and we respect each other’s opinions. Many of us enjoy reading regularly, so we are up to date on current events. Sometimes I use that to come up with a question, other times it’s just a random topic. Other residents also chime in if they have a question they want to ask. The conversation goes where we want it to go. It’s organic, and it may change as the activity continues. We also try to leave every session with a joke so everyone walks out laughing. It brightens my day, and I hope they feel the same.”

The activity was started by Shelly Levin, life enrichment manager at Waltonwood Lake Boone. After her grandfather retired, she watched as his health declined because he didn’t have a place to go to create conversations and enjoy the company of others. Her grandfather inspired her to work in senior living and start an activity that engages people. She recognizes that seniors are still sharp and want to improve their cognitive abilities, increase concentration to better understand things and stay connected to the world and people around them. With all these things in mind, she felt inclined to bring Socrates Café to Waltonwood Lake Boone. The activity has been successful so far, and more people join the conversation each week.

“It brings me such joy to see residents at the community attend Socrates Café every week,” said Levin. “I was heartbroken watching what my grandfather went through, so to see a room full of residents conversing and learning new things really brings a smile to my face. The name is really a twist. You don’t expect the activity to be a question that turns into an hour-long conversation, but that’s what I like about it. Many residents, like George, were intrigued by the name and it sparked their interest to attend. Now, it is becoming one of the more popular activities at Lake Boone. I love hearing residents continuing the conversation after the activity is over. Seniors need an outlet to express themselves, and we are happy to provide an activity to do that.”

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