Jan wakes up in the morning and knows that she will have a meal today. Anita needs help remembering to eat. Betty had fallen and been laying on the floor all night, but knew that her angel would come for her in the morning.
These are the stories of our elderly. Their families are elsewhere. Their friends are gone. They are alone. One in six seniors in the rural communities in our country faces depression, isolation, and hunger. Jan, Anita and Betty are not just statistics but real people who belong to families and have neighbors, yet they face these unimaginable hardships.
The Payson Senior Center is committed to helping our seniors maintain independence and quality of life. We have served over 600,000 meals to frail seniors in our community since 2000.
The benefits go far beyond the meal delivered. Our drivers and volunteers make sure our seniors are okay through visual wellness checks. We are their friends. We laugh with them; we cry with them; we encourage them. We have saved lives! We embrace life together.
You can help us make a difference in the lives of our seniors with these quick tips:
• Remove the following assumptions:
“Seniors must have it all together since they have made it this far in life.” (Age knows no economic boundaries.)
“Seniors must have family that takes care of them.”’ (Many seniors are isolated with family far away. Some have outlived their family members and friends.)
• Have eyes that see. Look for the elderly in your neighborhood and in your sphere of influence. Many seniors fear loss of independence and may try to hide their needs. Use a smile and a friendly approach.
• Know the resources. There are many resources available. Contact your regional Area on Aging for a list of local resources
• Offer to help with the first call. For some handing them a brochure or list of phone numbers can be overwhelming.
Care to notice. Connect to resources. Commit to support.
For more information on senior advocacy and programs, contact the Payson Senior Center at 928-474-4876 or visit paysonseniorcenter.org.
Debbie Stephens is the director of marketing and development for the Payson Senior Center.