Voluntarios del Sureste recruiting volunteer senior companions
To help satisfy the companionship and independence needs of Puerto Rico’s elderly population, the nonprofit social impact project Voluntarios del Sureste announced the recruitment of volunteers for a new program of individualized support services for the benefit of that population.
The new initiative will benefit the elderly in the municipalities of Ceiba, Naguabo, Yabucoa and Humacao.
“Older adults require our social support to maintain their dignity and independence. We want this population to be able to live with a good quality of life for as long as possible,” said Voluntarios del Sureste Director María Eugenia Buscaglia.
“Through the volunteering of adult companions, we’ll be doing our bit to provide the help that these citizens need and serve as reinforcement and support to their families and caregivers,” she said.
The program intends to enroll 40 volunteers to meet the support needs of the sectors already identified. Those interested in becoming senior companions are required to be 55 years of age or older and have time to provide physical and emotional support to the program beneficiaries.
Participating senior companions will receive a stipend of up to a maximum of 20 hours invested weekly. They may be distributed flexibly throughout the week, including Saturdays and Sundays. These companions may serve as drivers, providing companionship and providing orientation about the Elder Justicie program.
Buscaglia said program does not provide the same service as a nursing professional, since it does not get involved in personal hygiene tasks, offer medicines or carry out banking transactions.
“The volunteers serve solely as companions to help caregivers and families have time for themselves,” she explained.
Collaboration agreements have already been signed with the municipalities of Yabucoa and Humacao, specifically with the offices of Community Alliances of the Municipality of Yabucoa and the Office of the Elderly and Women’s Affairs of the Municipality of Humacao. In the case of Naguabo, agreements have been signed with the Daguao Social and Cultural Development Committee as well as the Mother Teresa Center of Calcutta, community-based organizations in that municipality.
The results of a study published in June 2021 and conducted by the Boston College Retirement Research Center in Massachusetts, suggest that 45% of those over 65 will need minor to moderate support services.
It is estimated that only 20% of the members of that demographic will not need any support. The study is based on data from the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study, sponsored by the federal government and started in 1992.
“It’s a social imperative that we build support mechanisms for our senior citizens,” said Buscaglia.