Fayetteville Janet Best has found that more often than not, senior citizens living alone may need a hand a few times a week- whether it be with small household chores or just a kind ear to talk to. And that’s why she created the “Making Connections” program – as a way for seniors who may be confined to the house to develop relationships with local families and to get some extra help with the tasks they may need help with.
Best is the assistant director at the Fayetteville senior center and started the program in October 2012. When someone calls with a task or request for a volunteer, she sends out a mass email to all of the volunteer families and then matches the interested party with a volunteer who is able to perform the task. She said the requests so far have included everything from having furnace filters changed, to storm doors fixed, to accompanying someone to an appointment, to sitting down for tea and talking.
“The whole point of the program is to make sure that these people have a contact so that if something comes up, the person can easily call their volunteer,” Best said. “If for some reason their volunteer can’t do it, they call me and I notify the other volunteers to see who’s available.”
The program was developed after Best read a survey done in the area that stated that there were many housebound seniors that didn’t either get out or want to get out, yet wanted to be checked on. A lot of it had to do with the fact that many don’t have family in the area, she said. Additionally, she said she’s found that when it comes to asking for help, some seniors are very hesitant.
“Seniors tend to think that it’s something they should be shameful of. They don’t like to ask for help. With this program though, they’re not necessarily asking for help. It could be something as small as a phone call once a week. Nine times out of ten, when someone goes in to do a service, they end up staying an extra hour just having tea and chatting,” she said.