A helping hand
Senior Companions make friendships, a difference in community
A simple game of cards can extend into something much bigger for senior companions at Community Action Partnership of North Alabama. Volunteers ages 55 and older take simple tasks such as playing a game of cards to help home-ridden individuals age comfortably.
Jordan Jones is the senior companion coordinator. She said the program pairs volunteers with homebound people and gives them the opportunity to make a difference through the tasks that we often take for granted.
She said volunteers can help with light housekeeping or meal preparation, but the big way volunteers can make a difference is just by being there.
“I try to harp on one of the main parts of our program is that companionship piece, just someone to watch tv with or play cards with. Some of our volunteers drive so they can take their clients out to lunch. Many of the clients can’t drive and can’t get out, so they can take them to lunch or to the senior center or even just grocery shopping or walking the mall just to get them out and about from their homes,” Jones said.
According to Jones, there are approximately 50 volunteers that participate in the program in Morgan, Lawrence and Cullman Counties. She says in addition to being there for the homebound person, the senior companion can become a vital part of the family.
“In dealing with so many different clients and dealing with so many different people, I see the need. I talk with different family members about how they want to keep their mom or dad or sister at home. I have one that she really needed to go back to work but she couldn’t because she was providing care for her mom. By providing the senior companion, she was able to go back to work and know that her mom was safe at home and she can do what she needs to do. That is our main goal, for our volunteers to become part of the family, someone they can trust to be there,” Jones said.
The companions also have something to gain by giving back to the community. According to Jones, the volunteers are able to build friendships with their companion and grow their feelings of worth.
“Our volunteers really gain a sense of purpose. It gets them out of their homes. A lot of them have told us that if they were not volunteering they would be doing nothing. They are really giving back to their community, and finding a sense of self-worth. They can feel good about themselves, they are providing something that is needed and they are making a difference,” Jones said.
Having worked with the program over a year now, Jones said she has seen the desperate need for the service the senior companions can provide.
“The population at large is aging and the senior population is large. More and more people are looking for care for their families or for themselves. Longterm care is super expensive and most people would like to remain in their homes because it’s cheaper and most cost effective. Also, most people just feel more comfortable in their homes. That’s kind of the main part of what we are trying to do, provide that for Morgan, Cullman and Lawrence Counties to help the population here age at home and in place. It is better for them and for their communities,” Jones said.
Individuals wanting to get involved with the Senior Companions program or wanting more information for their homebound loved one can reach out to Jones by calling 256-260-3117 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Jones said Community Action Partnership of North Alabama is also always accepting donations of any kind.
“We are always looking for local funding so that we can continue to provide services and increase the services that we provide. They can contact me or they can contact our Community Action office. We also take in kind donations, we provide a monthly Inservice for our volunteers where we provide meals and door prizes. We take any donations: food or time if someone wants to volunteer,” Jones said.