Author: Carrie McClellan, Outreach Manager, ElderHelp
From the comfort of her cozy chair, Louise, who just turned 91, can reach a treasured book, gaze out the window at her patio flowers, or travel the world watching KPBS’ “Curious Traveler” on her tiny TV. She also keeps the phone right beside her and looks forward each day to a friendly check-in call from ElderHelp.
Like more than 40% of San Diego seniors, Louise lives alone. Several years ago her COPD had progressed to the point that her shortness of breath was limiting her comfort and mobility. She worried some nights that something would happen and no one would know, but she was determined to avoid a nursing home. When her physician’s assistant told her about ElderHelp’s services, including daily check-in calls, Louise signed up. Now she feels reassured knowing someone will call every day.
“At first I didn’t want to take up too much time on the phone," Louise shared with a staff member. "I know you are busy. But as I get to know each volunteer better, I enjoy talking just a little longer. I feel like they’re my friends. Actually, they’re like my family.”
In addition to check-in calls, Louise schedules rides to appointments and social outings with volunteer drivers, and other volunteers take her grocery shopping.
“Who knew Trader Joe’s could be so much fun?” she smiles. “But really, it’s knowing you care about me that makes me feel so good. I’m content right where I am.”
ElderHelp is honored to play a role in creating a sense of family for Louise, and for all our clients. We are able to make difference in over 7,000 lives each year, and we look to our volunteers to help deliver many of our services. In fact, volunteers provided almost 20,000 personal contacts with clients last year and devoted close to 12,000 hours of helpful assists, rides, and companionship. The goal of us all at ElderHelp is to enable seniors to live well and with dignity at home, where they want to be.