Seniors Who Serve Together Stay Together
Nobody wants to feel alone and thanks to Senior Companions, no one has to. This couldn’t be truer for Shirley Hosey and Asleen Griffin. According to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. Loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of chronic illness, hearing loss, heart disease, hospitalization, and stroke. Social isolation is associated with a nearly 50% percent increased risk of dementia. Asleen and Shirley are beating these odds as best friends who met through volunteerism.
Both retired from food industry jobs, Shirley and Asleen were referred to Seniors in Service through friends and became volunteers for the Senior Companions Program (SCP). Senior Companions are compassionate, trained volunteers who are matched with isolated seniors to provide the essential social connection and assistance they need to remain healthy and independent at home. They met during SCPs monthly in-service trainings and started to sit next to each other. Asleen learned that it was hard for Shirley to drive the distance to their monthly meetings, so they became carpool buddies. Shirley served as a Senior Companion for 8 years, and Asleen is going strong with over 10 years of service. Through the years, they both helped many different clients but when Shirley was no longer able to volunteer a Seniors in Service Program Coordinator suggested that Asleen become her companion.
Now, at 80 and 81, Asleen and Shirley spend time together 4 days a week. They keep their minds active with their favorite pastimes, word searches and BINGO! As Shirley likes to tell it, Asleen always wins the bingo games held twice a week at Shirley’s senior apartment complex. With a friendly lean and a nudge, Asleen reminds her that they share their meager bingo earnings and try to save up for something special. Recent winnings are being collected on Shirley’s kitchen table so that soon Asleen can buy them Steak n’ Shake milkshakes on her drive to the apartment. With a huge smile, Shirley reminds Asleen that they better be strawberry milkshakes because those are the best.
As these best friends chuckle together about milkshakes, they are reminded that things haven’t always been fun and easy. Not too long ago, Shirley had to be hospitalized, and Asleen didn’t get to see her for 2 months, and over parts of the pandemic shutdown they could only talk on the phone. Asleen remembers how sad she was when she couldn’t see her friend and talk about the old times. It also wasn’t easy getting Shirley’s cat to accept Asleen as he would bolt into hiding whenever she arrived. Now, he greets her at the door and sits on her feet at the kitchen table while they do word searches. These two ladies aren’t just companions, they aren’t just friends, they are family.
Did this story warm your heart? You can fill a critical need for Senior Companions in Sun City Center as well as other areas of need like Carrollwood, New Tampa, Plant City, Town ‘n’ Country, Wesley Chapel, and throughout Pinellas. As a volunteer you can set your own schedule, and you will receive ongoing support and training from Seniors in Service. If you are age 55+ and ready to step into the best years of your life as a volunteer, contact us today!
Contact: Gabby Lugo firstname.lastname@example.org (813) 358-2699