Help available for older residents
May 18, 2018
A program that assures Douglas County's older residents they are part of the community is being conducted by volunteers across the county.
Uniformed and trained volunteers, who have completed background checks, can call or visit senior clients who live in Douglas County as part of the Caring Neighbors program.
"It is well established that people live longer when they have friends and connections in the community, and live healthier lives," Sheriff's Sgt. Bernadette Smith said. "Friendships are central to human relationships and those interactions sometimes become less with seniors, which could result in depression."
Smith and Citizen Patrol volunteer Claudia Lowe conduct initial visits and interviews where the senior's picture is taken and information taken down about the person.
So far about 32 people have signed up for the program, which is being operated by the sheriff's office and Douglas County Social Services.
"It is important during aging to have people around you to support and engage you, and this program does a portion of that," Smith said. "Referrals to the program can be made by the senior themselves, or a neighbor, relative, friend, or an emergency responder such as a fireman or sheriff's deputy. The referral will be followed up on and consent is required by the senior client."
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Some of the seniors are on hospice or in wheelchairs and are restricted from some activities.
Citizen Patrol tries to fill in and help with some needs.
"A client asked for assistance in some spring de-cluttering, and three Citizen Patrol members assisted the client with cleaning out a room with the client supervising the 'Donate, Throw-Away and Keep event,'" Smith said. "The client was happy with the results. Another client during a visit said she had never attended the local senior lunch offered by the DC Senior Center because she did not know anyone. The client's new found friend, her Caring Neighbor/Citizen Patrol offered to meet her there and together they enjoyed the experience of meeting new friends and learning about the Senior Center's activities."
Caring Neighbors volunteer Emmy Rowe writes letters to the clients, and sends birthday cards.
The Silent Generation (1920-1945) relied heavy on written communication delivered by the U.S. mail, and so the program reaches out to them through letter writing in addition to calls.
"Caring Neighbors volunteers are knowledgeable in county resources and can educate their clients on Meals on Wheels, DART, or other services available," Smith said. "The volunteers simply want to help those who have worked a career, raised families and contributed greatly during their earlier years, and are now slowing down. The senior clients may need a friend, an advocate, or simply a listening ear."
Fred Rousch, a law enforcement officer who retired to Douglas County, joined Citizen Patrol in 2016, and assists Caring Neighbors clients with some household needs.
After the particular challenging task was completed, the senior client started to get emotional and said "You all are my angels, thank you."
Anyone interested in the service or who knows someone who would benefit from this program, should call Douglas County Social Services at 775-782-9825.