News / USA

    Thanks to Volunteers, Elderly Can Age in Place

    Thanks to Neighbors, Elderly Can Age in Placei
    X
    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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.