I like to hear about nice things being done for seniors, so a few weeks ago I sent an email to our care management team asking for some examples. Good news: There are a lot of people willing to help our seniors across Tennessee! We are, after all, “The Volunteer State”.
Here in Knox County opportunities abound if you want to assist folks who need a helping hand due to age related factors. The Knox County Mobile Meals, The Senior Companions Program, and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program are just a few of the programs available through the Knox County Office on Aging. We are fortunate to also have three non-profits dedicated to ending Alzheimer’s Disease and assisting those (family and friends) who are affected by it: The Pat Summitt Foundation, Alzheimer’s Tennessee, and The Alzheimer’s Association’s East Tennessee Chapter. One does not need to look far to find support groups for caregivers of those affected by dementia including our Dementia Caregiver Support Group on the 2nd Thursday of every month.
But, perhaps the most important thing to say is that you don’t have to put your name on paper, give out your email address or go to scheduled events to make a difference. Don’t get me wrong, the organizations listed above are great, and deserve your support, time, and energy. But my favorite story comes from our care manager, Lee Ann, and demonstrates how tiny acts that take very little time can make a WORLD of difference. Lee Ann told me about an aging woman who lives by herself. This live-independently-senior is supported by her neighbors with a simple system. She raises her blinds every morning, and closes them at night. This indicates to her neighbors that everything is ok, they know that she is getting along well, and if the blinds aren’t raised, six families are close by to check on her. All it takes is a moment of their time each day to look across the street and check on their neighbor. That simple act ensures her safety and supports her desire to live independently for as long as possible
Isn’t that amazing? There are numerous opportunities for us to participate in fundraising walks, clean up a neighbor’s yard and post selfies of our chivalrous acts on social media as we support these WONDERFUL causes. BUT, remember that the biggest difference we could make in someone’s life might be much closer to home and require considerably less time and effort. Become aware of the seniors in your neighborhood! Greet them, strike up a conversation and discover their stories. They have so much to offer you, and you them. The effort you spend to form this connection might be the best investment you make and could enrich your life in ways you can’t begin to imagine. Connect with a senior close to you, and make a difference.
By Dylan Adams