CLEARFIELD – Statistics show that our nation is aging. The number of people living past the age of 65, and especially over 85 years of age, is increasing. Today because of advances in medicine, improvements in medications, and better nutrition, we are living longer, more productive lives. Because individuals are living longer, many become frailer or need more care towards the end of their lives. This has resulted in an increase in the number of people who have to rely on some form of assisted living. Nursing and personal care homes are expanding services and programs to assist this growing population.
The transition from one’s own home to a skilled nursing facility can be a difficult one. Residents of nursing and/or personal care homes may feel frustrated by the loss of their independence. This frustration may lead to depression and loneliness. Also, it is estimated that 50 percent of the nursing home residents have no close relatives and 46 percent have no living children. These two facts are a major reason why an estimated 60 percent of nursing home residents never have visitors.
Recognizing the need to assist these residents with making this transition, many volunteers with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Clearfield County choose to donate their time to nursing and personal care homes. Through special activities, RSVP volunteers are able to give personal attention to the residents. They provide an opportunity for the residents to socialize, to have on-going contact with community members, and to feel connected to the outside community. Many strong friendships have been formed benefiting the residents, the community, and the volunteers themselves.
The RSVP staff works with Mountain Laurel Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on a visitation program. The activity coordinator at Mountain Laurel identifies residents who receive little or no visitors, and RSVP volunteers make a special point to visit with the identified resident. The goal of this program is to increase the socialization of the residents and also their participation in activities at Mountain Laurel. The volunteers receive the resident’s first name and room number when they arrive at the facility. They are also given an activity log to complete after the visit. This log simply states the activities the resident participated in such as playing cards or games, going to activities such as Bingo, birthday, and holiday parties, or just sitting and talking with the volunteer.
The activity coordinator is able to track the resident’s involvement in activities and to measure the difference the volunteers are making in the resident’s life. It is anticipated that because of the regular visits from volunteers, staff will notice increased involvement in facility activities and an improved state of mind as demonstrated by less depression, more outgoing behavior, or less anxiety.
Lois Kephart, Activity Coordinator for Mountain Laurel works with the volunteers at their facility. Ms. Kephart said, “Mountain Laurel appreciates the- more -volunteers who donate their time at our facility. Volunteers are a critical part of our commitment to helping our residents live a better, more productive life. The volunteers hold a special place in the lives of our residents.”
This activity not only benefits the residents, but it is also very satisfying to the volunteers. What a great way to make a difference in your community. You could use a special skill or talent, meet other people, give back to your community, and help people.
Do you have special talents or skills that could be shared and in turn brighten someone’s day? Why not consider spending a morning or afternoon each week visiting a resident of a local nursing or personal care home. Experience the benefits that come from reaching out to and helping others to achieve a fuller and more satisfying life.
If you are interested in learning more about this volunteer opportunity or if you have a special talent or skill you would like to share, please contact the RSVP office at (814) 765-2226 or 1-800-225-8571.
FEBRUARY VOLUNTEER CORNER:
SPECIAL PROJECTS: Do you want to volunteer but not be committed to a long-term assignment? RSVP has special projects that are seasonal but still have a great impact on the community. Some examples are sewing quilts for children who are in traumatic situations, preparing special mailings for organizations, or singing and visiting in a local nursing/personal care home. Your favorite organization or nursing/personal care home always can use some help with special projects. Soon, RSVP volunteers will be assisting the American Cancer Society with Daffodil Days. Why not consider spending a couple of hours helping an organization that touches everyone’s life at some point?
Be A “PAL”: The Pennsylvania Adult Literacy (PAL) volunteer program is looking for
volunteers to help adults with basic skills necessary to improve job prospects or prepare for their GED. Volunteers are also needed to assist in the computer lab, answering phone calls, or assembling newsletters. Scheduling is flexible and training and materials are provided. Make a difference in someone’s life today, volunteer today.
LOCAL PARK VOLUNTEER: The Curwensville Lake Authority could use some volunteers to man the entrance booth, collect fees, and also to help monitor the park. This could be a fun volunteer activity for someone who enjoys the outdoors. Scheduling
is flexible and all training is provided.
THRIFT STORE VOLUNTEERS: The Clearfield Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to assist in their thrift store. Duties would include sorting gently used clothing and assisting customers. Scheduling is flexible and all training is provided.
If you are interested in any of the above volunteer opportunities or would like to learn more about RSVP, please call the RSVP office at (814) 765-2226 or 1-800-225-8571.
RSVP is sponsored and partially funded by the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, Inc. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Clearfield and DuBois United Way agencies, memorials, and contributions.