The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio is looking for volunteers for a new program designed to give family caregivers a temporary break from the responsibilities of caring for their aging or ailing loved ones.
Interested RSVP Volunteers attend a one-day training session where they hear presentations from the Alzheimer’s Association, representatives of the AOaA’s Family Caregiver program, and other speakers. After the training, they meet with and are matched with family caregivers seeking respite services.
Volunteers commit to spending two hours each week at the caregivers’ home. While the caregiver is gone, the volunteer visits with the patient, watches TV, plays cards or board games, does puzzles, etc.
“To many people, two hours a week may not sound like much but to full-time caregivers, it can mean so much,” said Justin Moor, vice president of Program Development at AOoA. “It gives them the time and opportunity to take care of their own needs – to run errands, have lunch with a friend, go to their own doctor’s appointments or even to have some “alone time.”
The program has about 20 active volunteers; about 50 caregivers are on the waiting list seeking volunteers.
The volunteers were recruited by the AOoA at health fairs and senior events including the agency’s Spring Fling and Caregiver Expo. “A number of them are former family caregivers themselves, who know well the stresses of caring for an aging or ailing loved one,” Moor said.
Currently all volunteers are 55 and older, but men and women of all ages are welcome. “We serve a 10-county service area in Northwest Ohio,” he said. “Our goal is to get a good established base of volunteers in Lucas and contiguous counties.”
Since its inception, the program has been drawing rave reviews from both caregivers and volunteers.
“The caregivers say they come back refreshed and rejuvenated,” Moor said. “The volunteers – who like the caregivers are selfless and amazing people – say they are gratified to be able to provide meaningful help to the senior and the caregiver as well.”
The next training session is set for July. For more information or to volunteer, call 419-382-0624.