Palliative Care Volunteers Bring Comfort to Isolated Seniors

Months after her husband died, Ruth was told to vacate the home they shared for 40 years. She was 96 years old, frail, grieving, and all alone.

Seniors At Home’s Palliative Care team had cared for Ruth’s husband Eddie before he passed away, and stepped in to support Ruth with this difficult transition. Without family or friends nearby, Ruth was becoming isolated – what she needed most was someone she could lean on.

Audrey became Ruth’s Palliative Care Volunteer. Audrey visited Ruth regularly, providing companionship and support when Ruth needed it the most. Watch Audrey and Ruth’s story:

The Crisis of Isolated Seniors

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one third of adults over age 65 live alone. Like Ruth, many seniors experience their social worlds shrinking due to retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility—leaving them with greatly increased risk of loneliness, isolation, and depression. In addition to the mental effects of loneliness, feeling isolated can also take a damaging toll on one’s physical health. Recent research has shown that isolated seniors do not live as long and are more likely to develop dementia and long-term illnesses compared their more social counterparts.

Become a Palliative Care Volunteer

Seniors At Home’s Palliative Care team offers holistic support for those who are frail, suffering, or seriously ill. This November, a 30-Hour Palliative Care Volunteer training will bring in a fresh cohort of caring volunteers like Audrey to help seniors who are frail or experiencing a serious illness – including those who have no one else around. Volunteers provide emotional support and companionship, assist with simple errands and tasks, or simply enjoy sitting in silence with someone who does not want to be alone.

Audrey says, “The Palliative Care Volunteer Training really changed my outlook on aging, on illness, on loneliness, on compassion…and I’m so grateful that I can help another human being just by being with them.”

Rabbi Daniel Isaacson, Director of JFCS’ Spiritual Care Services, helps lead the volunteer training, which this year will begin on November 8th. “We have been training volunteers for this sacred work for over a decade,” he says, “during which time we’ve seen increasing recognition in our culture of the need to honor and support people through chronic and terminal illness. This need is as important as ever. And those volunteers who go through our training invariably feel transformed by it.”

Find out more and apply for the training >

To learn more about how Seniors At Home supports isolated seniors or can help someone you know, call us at 415-449-3700.