Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ending Isolation By Forming a Group

Have you heard of the Caring Cooperatives? These are groups of women who live alone and have no family nearby and are banding together to help one another with doctor visits, errands and other necessities. The movement was started in New York City in 2008 by a group of professional women near retirement who had been part of a national nonprofit called The Transition Network. The New York Times ran an article on Friday, September 16, about the Caring Collaborative: "Coming Together to Make Aging a Little Easier". It is well worth reading.

I've heard of other cooperatives like this, where retired people help each other with medical appointments and hospital stays. Members even act as medical advocates for each other. I have a friend in California who has had training in how to do this and has accompanied a neighbor to the hospital, making sure she was not neglected and that she understood the directions doctors and nurses were giving her.  My friend also brought her neighbor home.

The church I belong to (The First Congregational Church of Darien) started a Caring Committee many years ago that provided rides to medical appointments, home-cooked meals, friendly visits and cookies and flowers at holidays. They brought my mother a plate of Christmas cookies when she was in a nursing home. That always made me feel so good. A few years ago, the committee expanded to include chore services and is now called Church Friends. It's not just for helping older people, though. When I young mom had an operation, members provided meals and rides for her kids to their activities.  

I'm on the board of new nonprofit in Darien, Connecticut, called Aging in Place+Gallivant ("AIP+G"). We provide a single place to call to learn about the services that already exist in the community to help you stay in your home as you get older. We also provide transportation and some handyman services. We are currently discussing how we can use volunteers to do more, such as friendly visits and friendly shopping.

The point is, people are making a difference in helping one another. You or your loved-ones do not have to be alone. Find out what is available where you live.

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