There are numerous seniors in our community who are socially isolated and feel alone, due to a myriad of circumstances. They may have lost their ability to drive, lost a spouse or are unable to live without the assistance of a caregiver. Our AmeriCorps Program fills this need by helping seniors with transportation, socialization and living more independently.
One of our clients, Anna, is a 97-year-old former 2nd grade school teacher with extreme hearing loss. She has a live-in caregiver and she has no family living in the area. Anna’s concerned adult son, who lives in Lithuania, contacted Alpert JFS to find a companion for Anna to help decrease her social isolation. Justina (left in photo), one of our AmeriCorps volunteers, became Anna’s companion. They meet once a week, and due to Anna’s hearing impairment, Justina brings a large pad of paper and marker to communicate with her. This is how Anna is accustomed to communicating with others.
During their one-hour visits, they play board games together and Scrabble seems to be Anna’s favorite game. Justina also brings art supplies to her visits, because she learned that Anna enjoys creating art and is quite talented at painting and coloring.
With Anna’s hearing loss, Justina acknowledges that it does take longer to communicate with each other. However, Justina is happy to say that this has not kept them from bonding. In fact, Anna’s son, after having noticed the positive impact of Justina’s companionship with Anna, has recently contacted Alpert JFS to request that Justina’s once-a-week visits be increased to two visits per week! The companionship with Justina has benefited Anna tremendously, and at the same time, it has provided respite to her caregiver.
Justina, a 2nd year AmeriCorps volunteer and a practicing emergency nurse, finds her role as a senior companion very fulfilling. Justina’s kindness and tireless dedication extends to the lives of her other AmeriCorps clients in our community, too. We are happy to have Justina continue her work as an AmeriCorps companion, helping seniors in our community.
If you’re interested in becoming an AmeriCorps member, or if you know of a senior who would benefit from having a companion, contact us for more information at www.AlpertJFS.org/americorps/ or call Nancy Frent, AmeriCorps Program Director, at (561) 684-1991.