It Takes a Village
Volunteer "villages" are springing up and providing assistance to seniors so they can stay in their own homes. This is a gift deeply appreciated by many seniors. The villages stress that there is no task too small. Their 24-hour call lines provide tech help, transportation assistance, and exercise companionship. A lot of the younger volunteers like to play Wii with the seniors, which helps them with balance. Also, seniors are directed to vendors for discounts. But the most important thing is the feeling of support.
As Gail Kohn, executive director of Capitol Hill Village in Washington, D.C., says, "We spend our lives from childhood being told, 'Be independent, do this for yourself," so the biggest part is getting the seniors to feel comfortable reaching out for help. Villages marry the need for support with the encouragement of living independently, giving seniors enough confidence to stay in their homes for as long as they can.
Betty O'Connor, who lives independently with her husband Jack, says that she has visited friends in assisted living and nursing homes and finds them depressing. "We like to be around young people." The O'Connors are starting to organize a "village" of friends and neighbors.
There are already 50 non-profit programs across the nation, and 100 more in development. The annual fee, from $500 to $800, pays for a small staff that organizes volunteers.
Click here to find out more information about starting a village. (http://www.capitolhillvillage.org/?pg=97&/#documents)Tweet