Providing care for a parent or another aging loved one can be a stressful job. Even if they are relatively independent, you may find yourself making frequent check-ins to make sure they are doing well.
This can be particularly taxing for the ‘sandwich generation,’ adults who are stretched between caring for elderly parents as well as their own children. As the name implies, it’s easy to feel pressured by these competing responsibilities.
Seniors Helping Seniors was designed to help provide some relief to these caregivers. The employees, who are seniors themselves, provide a wide variety of services to assist older adults. This creates a win-win-win scenario. Beneficiaries get assistance and companionship. Employees get a part-time job, supplemental income, and an opportunity to meet new people and give back to the community. Caregivers can enjoy some time off and peace of mind.
“We kind of see ourselves as filling the gap for a lot of families, to take some of the pressure off,” says Maria Cerino, owner of a Seniors Helping Seniors franchise in Mystic which serves the southeastern Connecticut area.
Employees with Seniors Helping Seniors can help with a number of tasks. These include running errands, meal preparation, light housekeeping, yard work, minor repairs, personal care, pet care, medication reminders, and mailing letters or bills.
Other services are designed to get a senior out and about. An employee might escort them to a doctor’s appointment or social function, or they might take them on an outing to a concert, movie, or other occasion.
These visits provide an important social benefit, as the employee becomes a friend and companion as well as a caregiver. Since both the employee and the beneficiary are in a similar age bracket, they are able to develop a good rapport with each other. This can be especially important if a senior is experiencing loneliness and isolation due to infrequent family visits or friends who are no longer able to see them. Social interaction can also help ward off dementia and cognitive impairment.
“It’s really important to have someone who’s really like a friend,” says Cerino. “We kind of see ourselves as trying to bring a little bit of sunshine into people’s lives.”
Cindy Palmer says her late mother, Billie, used Seniors Helping Seniors for about four years. She originally needed some assistance with meals, but the flexibility of the program allowed her to start receiving more visits as her needs increased. Palmer described the program’s level of care as “exceptional.”
“They provided a level and a quality of care that enabled her to stay in her house,” says Palmer. “I think you could call it a companionship. We were very fortunate that the women who came here over the years were just a good fit for my mother. They got along just fine.”
While Seniors Helping Seniors does not offer nursing or medical care, some caregivers are trained to assist seniors with dementia. These employees help those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other serious ailments, update family members on their loved one’s condition, and provide respite care.
The minimum visit from a Seniors Helping Seniors employee is three hours, but they can also provide 24-hour care or overnight visits. Some people only request a visit every other week to fill a gap when a family member is unavailable to provide care, but a typical beneficiary gets three to four visits per week.
Most of the people served by Seniors Helping Seniors are medically stable and fairly independent, but could use some extra help for safety measures. Employees occasionally supplement other services provided to seniors who are under the care of a physician or residing in an assisted living facility.
People who receive services from Seniors Helping Seniors are often referred to the organization when they are discharged from the hospital after a fall or other injury. Cerino says family members, and occasionally seniors themselves, have also contacted the organization asking to set up visits.
After the initial contact, an employee is sent out to make a preliminary visit. This first consultation, done at no cost, looks at the home environment, meets with the family, and ensures that Seniors Helping Seniors will be a good fit.
Home care services are not covered by Medicare, so most people use private pay. The services are typically covered by long term care insurance as well.
For more information about Seniors Helping Seniors, visit seniorcaremystic.com or call 860-536-4767.