More and more people are finding themselves struggling to make it from day to day. Add in the fact that you are an older individual whose support system is limited or non-existent and you have the recipe for extremely long days, possible deep depression and conditions for other disintegrating health issues.
Imagine an older adult sitting in their home or apartment with the radio or television on all the time. These appliances are not on so they can watch a game show or keep up with current events; they are left on to create a sense of being with someone instead of being alone in their home day in and day out. And every day those sounds become more and more just white noise, leaving that person lonelier than before.
Now imagine that same person with a real senior companion in their life; a person who has made the commitment to come and visit them each week. This visitor is there to talk, take a walk, play a game, go grocery shopping, read to, and have a meal with them. These and other small but important activities can help the visitee feel cared about and even help them to stay in their home longer.
The senior companion program is looking for caring, healthy and enthusiastic people to look in on some of the isolated elderly in our neighborhoods. If you are age 55, have a limited income and can volunteer 10 hours weekly, you might want to consider becoming that committed individual who will visit with two to five people in the community each week. In addition to the wonderful feeling you will get from helping others, the program also provides a non-taxable stipend. The non-taxable stipend means money that cannot be weighed against subsidized housing, food stamps or other government subsidies. Other benefits of being a senior companion volunteer include: mileage reimbursement to and from the visitee’s home, training, paid snow/heat days and personal days, secondary insurance coverage and recognition.
Just taking the time to visit with someone, who has found themselves alone because their kids have moved away, a spouse has passed on or their friends have chosen to live in a warmer climate can make all the difference in the world. You can choose to make that difference to a visitee. Became a senior companion; it is easy. Just call the offices of the Senior Companion program; a part of Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack Counties at 225-3295. We cover the entire state.
Michele Lapierre is program manager for New Hampshire Senior Companions. Call (603) 225-3295, ext. 1184 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.