Helping each other – Seniors in our Community
By Julie Brown, Programs Manager
May was National Older Americans Month, highlighting the important roles that senior citizens play in their communities. From contributing to social networks to serving the community through volunteer work, older Americans are an important part of the areas in which they live. Seniors touch our lives every day, whether they are volunteering their time to improve the lives of those around them, or reaching out to friends and neighbors for a helping hand.
According to the National Council on Aging, “Over 25 million Americans aged 60+ are economically insecure—living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level ($29,425 per year for a single person). These older adults struggle with rising housing and health care bills, inadequate nutrition, lack of access to transportation, diminished savings, and job loss.” Many of our retired clients are on a fixed income and must carefully budget their income in order cover all of their expenses each month. Unfortunately, many seniors are faced with the devastating decision of having to choose between their required medications or having enough food to eat. We recognize this issue and understand that seniors, who do not have the ability to earn any more income, may never reach self-sufficiency. With that in mind, we do all that we can to support our senior clients and provide them with services that help them save money that can be spent on necessities such as medications.
We serve many seniors through various assistance programs, some of which are specifically geared towards assisting clients over the age of 60. The Senior Groceries program provides a bag of groceries that is personalized for each senior, based on their dietary needs and personal tastes. A team of dedicated volunteers calls each client enrolled in the program to ask about their dietary needs and food preferences to generate a list of items to be included in their monthly bag of Senior Groceries. These phone calls serve another purpose – a chance for TLC to touch base with the seniors and have a conversation about how they’re doing in general and remind them that we are here to help.
In addition to the Senior Groceries Program, TLC clients have access to other food assistance programs including Help Yourself, Supplemental Groceries and holiday meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Clients can receive medical services through the Penrose St. Francis Neighborhood Nurse Mission Outreach Program, staffed by Nurse Cindy Stickel. Clients can also speak with a volunteer Healthcare Advocate, who can offer guidance to clients when applying for health insurance. Tri-Lakes Cares can also provide a wide variety of financial assistance that is determined based on the need of the individual client.
Older Americans Month has provided an opportunity to reflect on the role that seniors play in our community. Most of the volunteers who serve Tri-Lakes Cares and enable us to run day-to-day are over the age of 60. The National Council on Aging states that some of the benefits of seniors volunteering are that “Older volunteers report greater life satisfaction than non-volunteers and that new relationships and making a difference provide a greater sense of purpose in life for older Americans.” Without the compassion, valuable insights and tremendous skills of senior volunteers, Tri-Lakes Cares would not be able to impact clients and the community in the many ways that we currently do.
If you know of a senior in need or have questions about senior services in our community, please contact us. In some cases, we will be able to provide assistance (such as through the Senior Groceries program) and in other cases we will able to provide referral information to other organizations.