They live in seniors’ complexes, private homes, apartments, or mobile home parks. They have lived productive lives for 60, 70, 80 or more years. Yet now, they find themselves alone, unable to get out, isolated from neighbors and the community. They are the homebound, hidden elderly. Or perhaps they are not yet elderly; they may be a vulnerable, isolated adult in the community.
Many of them are isolated because of illness; others because they are unable to drive; are discouraged by a confusing or inadequate bus system; or not able to afford a taxicab. These are people who have no one to ask “How are you today?” They are alone, have no one checking in on them on a regular basis, and may not see another face for days at a time, or months. They are our neighbors, our relatives, and one day – they may be us.
Isolation is an issue for many people, even in a small community like ours, where it seems everyone knows everyone. In order to reach out to these individuals, the Revelstoke Senior Citizens’ Association is implementing the Good Morning Program. This program enables isolated individuals to have contact with their community and reassure them that they are not alone. This telephone reassurance program prevents situations where an elderly person living alone falls in their bathtub and is not found for three days, it is a safety check to see that they are not in crisis or at risk of harm.
The phone calls will be offered on a long-term basis or for a temporary, short term basis. For example, if someone is recovering from a surgery or injury, or if caregivers/family will be away on vacation for much needed respite or to deal with their own medical needs. These families can have the added reassurance that someone will be checking on their loved one regularly, in their absence.
The program uses volunteers who make phone calls at pre-arranged times to homebound individuals to reduce their isolation and monitor their well-being. The recipient must agree to receive the calls and understands that if contact cannot be made emergency procedures will be put in place. Daily contact decreases the risk, as well as the anxiety associated with living alone. The program is made possible through the dedication of friendly, cheerful volunteers who will enjoy making the morning call as much as the clients that receive them. You do not have to be a member of the Senior’s organization to volunteer or to participate in this program.
To give the gift of your time to the Good Morning Program or to apply to receive the service, please contact me at the Revelstoke Seniors Center. You can drop into the Center located at 603 Connaught Avenue on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursdays between 9-12 and 1-3 or call 250-837-9456.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of a community!
Jean Pedersen is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Revelstoke Senior Citizens’ Association