Seniors Helping Seniors Stay Independent

Seniors helping seniors. That's the goal of the Senior Companion Program in Hancock County. Volunteers offer assistance to older people who need a helping hand around the house. Coordinators say all seniors involved in the program benefit.

At age 85, Gladys Hernandez relies on a walker to get around.

"I have this bad knee and I never know when it's going to give way on me. I don't have cartilage in my left knee, it's gone. That's why I'm on a walker," Hernandez said.

As you might imagine, that walker makes doing simple every day tasks difficult.

"I need somebody to go to the grocery for me, get the mail for me. I need somebody to take out the garbage for me. I can wash the dishes once in a while, if I'm standing there leaning up against the sink. If I don't have anything to hold onto, I'm going to wind up on the floor and I don't want to do that anymore."

That's where Alvina Nichols comes into the picture. She's a Senior Companion Volunteer who helps Gladys with her daily chores.

"Make up her beds because she can't get around the beds to do it. If she needs something cooked, I'll cook it for her," Nichols said.

The program benefits 78 year old Nichols as well.

"It gives me something to do. I'd rather be doing something then be home all day... It keeps me going keeps me young. I'm old too."

The free service is available to qualifying seniors 60 or older. It's been underway in Harrison County for several years and was just expanded to Hancock County by the "Area Agency On Aging".

Volunteers receive a modest stipend for their service. For more information about the program contact Deborah Banks at the Area Agency On Aging at 868-2326.

by Al Showers