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People Inc launches companion program for local seniors

SPRINGVILLE — People Inc. has recently acquired the senior companion program from Child and Family Services. People Inc. already has a division of Senior Services, including People Inc. Senior Living, which are apartments for those who are 62 and older who meet income guidelines. One of those, Orchard Living, is located on Waverly Street in Springville. More information about those facilities can be found at www.people-inc.org/senior_services_home/senior_living_apartments/index.html.

The program’s goal is to provide aid and, ultimately, independence to seniors and other adults who are frail or homebound. Among other activities, the senior companion can assist with daily living tasks, such as grocery shopping and bill-paying; provide socialization and develop friendship; alert doctors and family members to potential problems and provide respite to family and caregivers.

A senior companion, 55 or older, who lives in Erie County, volunteers his or her time supporting the lives of older adults. They serve older adults who are frail, adults with disabilities, those with terminal illnesses and offer respite for caregivers.

Nicole Forgione, public affairs manager for People Inc., said that the benefits to an older adult partnering with a senior companion include having the ability to live independently in their homes or apartments, reducing social isolation and receiving assistance with personal care, nutrition and home management.

“The People Inc. Senior Companion Program assists in preventing or delaying older adults with physical, mental or emotional impairment who need outside assistance to maintain and manage their lives independently,” Forgione explained.

Virginia Krebs, coordinator for the Springville Concord Elder Network said that “the senior companion program is a wonderful help to older people,” and that she plans to follow up to find out how the program can work with Springville’s existing services.

Senior companions are supervised by the staff of People Inc. and other collaborating agencies. All senior companions receive 20 hours of pre-service orientation, as well as four hours of in-service training monthly. In total, senior companions complete 40 hours of orientation training. Most senior companions have had previous experience in caring for the elderly. Senior companions earn a tax-free hourly stipend, as well as travel and meal reimbursement.

Seniors looking for assistance who would like to volunteer to become a senior companion may call 768-2381.
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