Senior Companion Program: Addressing poverty through volunteerism
Sunbeam’s Senior Companion Program provides quality, in-home support and companionship to individuals. Nearly 90 percent of people over 65 want to stay in their homes as long as possible. In-home care is less expensive than residential nursing facilities, and means better health outcomes.
Sunbeam’s Senior Companions are volunteers who are age 55 and above and who are passionate about serving senior adults. Volunteers are able to give back to the community while providing companionship for another senior adult who may be homebound due to illness or age.
Senior Companions receive in-depth, monthly trainings that focus on practical subjects, such as home safety, dental services and caregiver tips. Trainings also consist of health-focused subjects including diabetes, Parkinson’s and Hospice care.
With the goal of helping seniors stay in their home for as long as possible, Senior Companions provide quality, in-home support and companionship to individuals who cannot afford nursing home care. Low-income families can’t provide the supportive care their loved ones need due to high costs. Sunbeam provides over 85,000 hours of in-home services through Senior Companions, saving each family up to $24,000 per year.
Last fiscal year, 100 Senior Companions spent quality time each week with a senior adult providing support that may include: light housekeeping, playing games and talking with the senior. The volunteers gave back in their own community while developing a nurturing, supportive companionship with another senior adult who may be home-bound due to illness or age.
Last year, 203 companion clients benefited from the program, which included respite care.
How Do I Become a Senior Companion Volunteer?
- You are at least 55 years old.
- You can serve between 15 and 40 hours per week.
- You pass a health screening and background checks.
Sunbeam provides training before the volunteer meets with his or her match, as well as monthly training. The program offers a tax-free, hourly stipend and mileage reimbursement to help cover costs to income-eligible individuals.
To become a Senior Companion volunteer contact Marien Breckenridge at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 405-609-8930.
How Do I Apply to Have a Senior Companion Stay with My Loved One?
Applications to receive a Senior Companion are readily available. For more information contact Marien Breckenridge at email@example.com or call 405-609-8930.
Senior Companion Program Improves Quality of Life for both Client and Volunteer
When Dorothy Smith turned 65 and retired, she felt that she had too much time on her hands. That’s when she spotted an article about Sunbeam Family Services need for Senior Companion volunteers and knew she would be a good fit.
“This program has been so good to help me stay mentally sharp,” said Dorothy.
For over 20 years as a Senior Companion, Dorothy has provided supportive friendship to homebound seniors, helped them around the house with light housekeeping, taken them to doctor appointments or provided respite to a caregiver spouse. Volunteering up to three times a week, she’s one of about 100 volunteers who help seniors stay in their homes for as long as possible. Sunbeam’s Senior Companion program is part of the national Senior Corps program established in 1974 for seniors 55+.
Sunbeam’s Senior Companion program helps clients remain independent in their home, with a greater quality of life, while providing the volunteer with an opportunity to remain active and give back to their community.
Dorothy has been Henri Wilson’s Senior Companion for nearly 20 years. The two women, both long-time community advocates, met years ago during their careers. Today, Henri, who is 78 years old, has mobility problems due to bad knees and has to rely on others to get out of her home. Dorothy takes Henri to community meetings and out to dinner, but she shares that the program helps her just as much as it helps Henri, especially since she lost her husband a few years ago.
“Henri is good to listen when I need to share what’s in my bucket. Physically and mentally, we help each other,” Dorothy said. “It’s a way that I can stay active and feel useful, because everybody wants to be useful.”