2018: A Look Back for SHS Chesterfield

shschesterfieldcountyva 15 Jan 2019

As we embark on a new year, it’s normal to be reflective about the old one. Things here at Seniors Helping Seniors have been humming along, and we wanted to share a “year in review” with you. Here’s what our owner, Lurene Reck, had to say:

What was the most exciting thing about SHS in 2018?

In November, we finally met as a team for the first time and spent a full four hours of Dementia & Alzheimer’s training. We did have one person not able to attend because of a family matter, but it was as close to 100% as we could possibly ever expect.   This may seem strange that we have not been together as a group before, but with various schedules throughout the week and weekends, it’s impossible to ever have everyone together at one time.

In addition to training, we took time for lunch and the opportunity to get to know each other and share their stories of how helping a senior has impacted their lives.  Some of these stories will be shared in the next few months in our Seniors Helping Seniors social media platforms.

At the end of the day we stayed together for our first team photo:

Seniors Helping Seniors Chesterfield Group Photo

Another good thing that happened in 2018 was bringing on 6 new providers to the team, with 3 of the 6 being men.  A traditional view is a female in the caregiver role, but many widowed men look for a buddy, someone to play scrabble, dominoes, or talk about their time in the military, that makes having a male a better fit for them.

Our growth means we always need exceptionally caring, compassionate, and empathic retired seniors on board.  This inter-generational employment model is the key that makes Seniors Helping Seniors work so well and we are thrilled that we can provide meaningful employment for older adults that capitalizes on their life experience, which is invaluable.  Our providers have the heart of a volunteer and are devoted to their client’s well-being.

What did 2018 teach you in terms of elder care?

Life teaches us that the only two things guaranteed are taxes and death.   And 2018 was a sad year for many of our families, and for the providers who cared for them.  Whenever possible, the provider and I attended the memorial service to show our respect and support to their families.   For the provider, coming to terms with their grief meant finding some unique ways to process this grief and honor the loss of a dear friend.  The story behind this will be shared in an upcoming blog posting.

Another lesson learned for us was that a person with Dementia or Alzheimer’s may not be able to understand or complete a simple task, but there are ways to engage and support them no matter how much they do accomplish.   Our role is to ensure they feel safe, loved, and always treat them with dignity and respect.  Everything we do is focused on a person-centered relationship.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Each year we pick a theme to support our mission of helping seniors remain independent in their homes, wherever that home may be.  Last year our theme was “Journey of Discovery”.

What makes SHS a special companion agency is our ability to genuinely have fun and lift spirits in the work that we do each day. In 2018, we took it to another level and learned something new about the people we supported, and the stories shared were heart-warming, funny, and inspirational. When we truly connect with someone, we continue to lift spirits, foster connection and instill a sense of purpose. At the end of the day, we’ve done our job if someone’s life was enriched and improved by our involvement.

For 2019 our theme is: “Getting Help from People Who Know About Life”.

Who better to help a senior than someone who has “been there, done that, and then some”.   This is our competitive advantage and differentiates us from other companion care and homemaking agencies.

When a family calls to inquire about “having someone come and sit with my mom or dad”,  my response is that we provide companion care with the purpose of socializing and engaging their loved one.  Our providers don’t just sit while mom or dad is placed in front of the TV. Or worse yet, the provider is on their phone while mom or dad is placed in front of the TV.   While the safety of their loved one is the first priority, we want to get to know them,  hear their stories, give them a chance to enjoy the outdoors, games, or even the occasional ice cream cone.

If the senior is still living independently in their home we can help them with daily household tasks such as cooking, grocery shopping, running errands, cleaning, laundry, organizing closets, removing unwanted items, and other tasks.   Sometimes just having someone new to tell their stories is a welcome addition to their daily routine.  And it certainly gives the adult children some peace of mind knowing mom or dad are safe and have a new friend to pass the time.

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