News / USA

Thanks to Volunteers, Elderly Can Age in Place

Thanks to Neighbors, Elderly Can Age in Placei
April 24, 2013 3:18 PM
In many countries around the world, families stay close. It’s routine for several generations to live together, with adult children caring for their aging parents. But in the United States, with children moving far from parents and grandparents for college or career, many senior citizens find themselves living alone. Moving to an assisted living facility is an option, but many seniors would rather stay independent, in their own home. Local governments and non-profit groups offer services to help them do that. Faiza Elmasry tells us about one of those volunteer organizations, which started as a neighborhood project in a suburb of Washington, D.C. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Thanks to Neighbors, Elderly Can Age in Place
Faiza Elmasry
Phyllis Ramberg, 85, lives alone in Hyattsville, Maryland, in the same house her parents lived in for many decades.

“Children keep asking me, ‘When are you going to move to one of those retirement villages?’ I say, ‘No, no. My friends are here, my church is close," Ramberg said. "I've got everything I need, right in this neighborhood.’”

A year ago, Ramberg was able to take care of her backyard; planting shrubs, pulling up weeds and raking leaves. This year, she just can’t do it herself.

“Things have changed somewhat," she said. "When illnesses happen, you just don’t have the capability that you thought you had before.”

That’s where “Aging in Place” comes in. The non-profit was founded two years ago to help seniors in the neighborhood with their daily needs. Founder Lisa Walker says she and her friends are among the seven percent of Hyattsville residents who are 65 or older. 

“A number of my neighbors are also aound my age," Walker said. "We started talking about some of the concerns we had. Several of us had had issues with parents that were getting older and they were far away from them and didn’t know how to take care of them or get support.”

Seniors can call Walker's organization with a request, for example, asking for someone to shop for groceries, do small chores around the house or drive them to the doctor. Then a volunteer is assigned to provide the help.

“We have about 40 people that have signed up to be volunteers," Walker said. "About 30 of them have gone through background checks. If they’re driving, we check their motor vehicle records as well.”

Aging in Place volunteer Sally Middlebrooks says that a review of new volunteers’ driving record and any criminal history is just as important as the training they receive.

“We want the seniors, people we call neighbors, to be assured that they are with safe, reliable people who are also caring people,” Middlebrooks said.

Most of the calls are for rides to the doctor.

“They take me to all my medical appointments. Anytime I need something, I call them up," said Louise Battiste, who began using the group’s services last year. “Almost every week I have something, and they help me do what has to be done that I can’t do because I can’t see. I’m an old lady. I’m almost 90.”

The volunteers also reap some benefits.

“I’ve learned a lot about what I need to be thinking about myself in terms of staying connected to people, your family and friends," Walker said. "Do I stay close to them? Do I try to keep myself immersed in the community, relating to people younger than I am?”

“I’m learning a lot about this whole process of aging in my town and in my state and in my country," Middlebrooks said. "And I'm learning, to my alarm, that it's very difficult. But I’m also meeting people who astound me with their flexibility and their sense of humor and their ability to stay very much alive despite aches and pains.”

Not all Aging in Place volunteers are retired. Courtney Wattai, 24, is a graduate student at American University in Washington who studies caregiving and plans to have a career working with seniors.

“That’s kind of what I want to do because I want to make sure I’m able to improve their lives," Wattai said. "I want to be very involved in their lives, not just sitting at a desk doing things. I thought this would be a good way to give tribute to my grandparents and what they had done for me and my brother."

It makes Walker happy to see the younger generation stepping up. She hopes that’s how residents in her neighborhood will always care for each other.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs