Senior Companion Program

Staying connected to your community can become more challenging as you age but there are still plenty of opportunities; one is joining the Senior Companion Program. "It's one of the best things I've done since I've moved back to the area." That's what Senior Companion, Rita Palmer, says about her involvement in this fun and compassionate program.

The name of the program says it all. It engages seniors to become companions for others who might need just a little extra help. "Sometimes I run my... I hate to say client because we've really become the doctor, sometimes to do a few errands, and sometimes just go out to lunch to help her meet other seniors in the area." That's really what the program is about; forming relationships that are beneficial on both sides while providing personalized attention and support to those in need.

While Senior Companions don't provide any personal care (bathing, administering medications, etc.) they do provide valuable assistance that allow clients to remain independent for as long as possible. Companions can prepare meals, accompany clients to medical appointments, help with shopping and errands, assist with household management and provide friendly fun and conversation.

Because of the personal nature of the relationship between companion and client, the program works hard to make sure they match people with similar interests and assess needs to ensure the companion is comfortable with the level of help needed by the client. Some companions may only be comfortable making weekly visits to other seniors while some companions may help a young adult with a disability organize their entire week. No matter what level of companionship you are comfortable with, there is someone waiting to benefit from your help.

Senior Companions are not paid but they do receive an hourly stipend for their time and reimbursement for mileage and expenses incurred during their volunteer work. "It's definitely not about the money", says Palmer "but it is nice to not have any financial worries get in the way of volunteering."

Our area Senior Companion program is grant funded and run by the Area 1 Agency on Aging, Glendive, with workstations scattered throughout their service area. The Richland County Commission on Aging is one of the workstations in Richland County where prospective clients and Companions can apply to be part of the program.

If you are interested in volunteering to become a Companion or are in need of the program's services, you can contact the Richland County COA at 406-433-3701. You may be surprised how enriching the lives of others will enrich yours as well.


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