Senior volunteerism creates opportunity to age independently

Register
Jan 29, 2014

 

Did you see the news report about “Staying Put” in New Caanan, Conn.?

“Staying Put” is a program that is supported by the individuals, themselves, who want help maintaining their independence in their own home as they grow older. To accomplish this goal, participants do two things:

1. They pay an annual membership fee of $375-$500 per year (that was not part of the news story. It is on their website.)

2. They volunteer their time, in some form, to further the cause of helping each other maintain their independence.

It is not only a great concept, but it’s also an idea that has actually been executed in a community with a population of 20,000 people. What makes this story distinctive is “Staying Put” boasts it is self-governed by its members and is based on the power of volunteers and the spirit of cooperation. If this business model of geriatric social service continues to work as well as the articles and videos report it to be, these “members” are doing something phenomenal: creating a benevolent community sub-culture that their children and grandchildren can inherit when they are older.

If the “Staying Put” story resonated with you, it should.

You see, by 2020 it’s a safe bet the aging tsunami will be felt more fervently than it is today. In six years, 29.4 percent of Erie County will be 60 or older. In 2010 it was 23 percent. Huron County will be 22.5 percent, compared to 18.5 percent in 2010. Ottawa County will be 32.9 percent, up from 27.1 percent in 2010. Sandusky County will be 27.2 percent, compared to 21.6 percent in 2010. (source: Scripps Gerontology Center, Taka Yamashita, Oct. 13, 2011).

Each county listed above is fortunate to have many volunteers supporting meals-on-wheels programs, free community suppers, free tax-filing assistance and clubs for social/recreational activities. Some have volunteer-driven transportation services. Despite all of this, these communities still need more action-oriented, volunteer-minded retirees and semi-retired people if we are to succeed at helping people of older age maintain their independent lifestyle.

If you are reluctant to volunteer because you are afraid of what you might be getting yourself into — don’t be. You are the one with the donation to give — your time. If it’s one day a month, offer that. Most organizations will gladly take a motivated, reliable volunteer with a positive attitude one day per month vs. not at all (I would).

As “Staying Put” is proving to others, the power of volunteerism and the spirit of cooperation can make your community a compassionate place for aging independently, not just for today, but for generations to come.

Ask Serving Our Seniors

Q: I want to do everything I can to help me keep my car keys longer as I grow older. What is out there to help me?

A: If you are comfortable using a computer to look at websites, Serving Our Seniors is sponsoring the “Roadwise Review” AAA safe driving class. It’s all computer based and will be Feb. 3 — 9:30-11 a.m. at Huron Public Library and again at 1:30-3 p.m. at Sandusky Library. The classes are half full. Advance registration is required. Register by 5 p.m. Thursday. Call Serving Our Seniors, 419-624-1856, and ask for Sarah.

Q: Where can I go for free help filing my taxes?

A: In Huron County call Senior Enrichment Services at 419-668-6245. In Erie County, go to the Erie County Senior Center, 620 E. Water St., Sandusky. Volunteers are working at those facilities from Feb. 3 to April 14. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and 8:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesdays. No appointments are taken; help is given on a first-come, firstserved basis. If you live elsewhere, dial 211 it is a “first call for help” call center. They may be able to help you.