From senior isolation to wellness
The majority of senior citizens have lived an honorable life oftentimes serving in our military, serving our community, working in a career, providing for their families, and so much more. Even in their golden years, they continue to provide love, patience, and wisdom in their daily interactions with those around them. This is all the more reason to not let them fall into isolation.
Seniors who fall into isolation and loneliness suffer greater incidences of illness, hunger, poverty, and victimization.
These factors affect their mobility, their independence, and their quality of life. Sometimes, the love and compassion of a person to access resources and support for maintaining good health and nutrition, promoting good mental health, accessing medical care, and managing their home environment is helpful in improving their overall well-being (AARP Foundation May 2012. Framework for Isolation in Adults Over 50.).
Catholic Charities’ Senior Services engages seniors through activities that nurture the mind, body, and spirit.
While there are several ways this program reaches the senior community, one project is uniquely capable of identifying isolated seniors and engaging them in a meaningful and purposeful manner.
Adopt-A-Senior is a community-based volunteer program that connects volunteers of all ages to isolated seniors to reduce isolation and loneliness. The program, a community volunteer initiative, aims to partner volunteers with isolated and lonely seniors so that their level of need can be addressed within San Antonio’s senior care community and Catholic Charities.
Since the program started eight years ago, Catholic Charities has expanded the reach and capabilities of the program by partnering with Adult Protective Services, the Silver Sabbath Coalition, the City of San Antonio, Alamo Area Council of Governments, and churches in the faith-based community to assist with assessing senior needs, to recruit and train volunteers about creating meaningful connections, and to raise awareness for adequate retirement planning.
The Adopt-A-Senior program has had tremendous success reaching seniors across the San Antonio community, but success isn’t just about reaching them. It is also about transforming lives and changing futures by making lasting change in the senior living condition while educating volunteers about senior needs and retirement.
One such life changing interaction occurred in the life of a 89 year-old widow living on San Antonio’s west side.
Rosa, found herself in a desperate situation living in a 60 year-old house with a severely damaged roof while managing all living expenses on a fixed income.
An Adopt-A-Senior volunteer identified and assessed Rosa’s situation and worked with program staff to assist in pest control and a critical home renovation, specifically a new roof. The Adopt-A-Senior team reached out to community partner, Fernanda Cardenas, United Healthcare’s Senior Marketing and Retention Lead, to assist in identifying and accessing resources to assist Rosa.
The City of San Antonio’s One Roof Program initiative provided a new roof to Rosa, an estimated $10,000 value.
Fernanda Cardenas said, “I am happy to represent an organization that values seniors in San Antonio and beyond. Collaborating with the Adopt-A-Senior program and Senior Fiesta helps us advocate and access resources for our seniors and their caregivers to improve San Antonio’s growing aging community.”
Adopt-A-Senior staff and volunteers continue to visit Rosa regularly to access resources she wasn’t aware were available to her.
Jennifer Garcia, Adopt-A-Senior coordinator, said, “At Catholic Charities, we aim to alleviate social isolation in seniors by providing compassionate and dignified care connecting the senior and the volunteer with emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual wellness. It is to rewarding for staff and volunteers to step in to assist a senior by providing relief and care to their health, their home, and their overall well-being.”