Posted on September 18, 2020 Al Greater-Placer Nugget
Written by Carol Barry
“Little things are BIG.” Yogi Berra
Living in a communal facility can be a necessary, often life-enhancing solution for seniors. These wonderful people range in age from the fifties to the nineties and are just like you and me, except they may have experienced a challenging circumstance in their lives and can no longer live alone. When families do not live close-by, when perhaps mobility is difficult, or when medications need to be closely monitored and nutrition provided, facing these challenges can be overwhelming and lonely. Often a senior care home can make a big difference in the quality of one’s life.
Angels for Aging is one of the cherished support groups in the Assistance League of Greater Placer® (ALGP). Its goal is reaching out in friendship and compassionately touching the deserving people who are facing these challenges in their lives. Each “Angel” brings her own form of comfort, friendship and personality to these residents. Angels make sure to stay in touch by phone and personal visits just to chat and check in. Sometimes they just listen when a resident wants to talk. They bring birthday gifts on those special days, complete with flowers & balloons in honor of these personal annual anniversaries. After a few visits, we see smiles and real connections begin to form.
Then 2020’s arrival brought the Corona Virus with it. In March, 2020, health officials began warning us to avoid any contact with ANYONE . . . just in case. No one seemed to know much about this virus, except that it was highly contagious & that seniors were especially at risk. Angels for Aging’s visits to the 55 residents at Rock Creek Care Center in Auburn immediately came to a complete stop as senior care facilities all over the nation began prohibiting anyone but health care providers to visit residents. Seniors were sequestered in their apartments, group activities were cancelled and meals were delivered in disposable containers outside their doors. Angels for Aging’s late Spring/early Summer Annual BBQ had to be cancelled! The festive Mother’s Day celebration was tabled. No “Angels” could gather in groups to decorate colorful straw hats for the mothers or put plans in place for celebrating Father’s Day. Later in the year, planners of the Annual Christmas Party had to put their preparations into limbo . . . for how long? No one knew.
Just when COVID-19 restrictions began to lift a bit, “Angels” were finally permitted to visit their senior friends who had been confined for months, having absolutely no visitors! Social visitations happily resumed at Rock Creek with small groups of seniors in an outdoor courtyard with proper social distancing, masks & hand sanitizing. Residents were delighted to reconnect with “Angels” from all over Placer County! Fate was not favorable, however, as California soon became engulfed in hundreds of fires and our skies filled with smoke! Evacuations threatened our forested communities and even nearby cities. All citizens were advised to remain indoors because of the dangerous air quality . . . so senior residents were once again sequestered in their rooms and the “No Visitors” policy was put back into place.
“Angels” had problems of their own during COVID-19 restrictions: sheltering at home, shopping safely for groceries, running out of basic items, learning to order necessities on the internet, caring for family members who had lost their jobs, tutoring children whose schools had closed . . . the list of adjustments being demanded of everyone goes on & on. Yet, they still remembered to stay in touch by phone with their confined senior friends whose worlds had shrunk to the size of their apartments. Angels for Aging still donated prizes for the “remote” Bingo games and some even dropped off pizzas. One eager “Angel” dropped off a pizza in honor of a resident’s birthday in July, learning only later that the resident’s birthday wasn’t until October!!! No one cared, and everyone got a good laugh out of this sweet & generous gesture.
Angels for Aging is always looking for member volunteers to help brighten the lives of seniors who often live just down the road from us. The time to “share the love” only takes one or two hours a month. It is just the human kindness and connections that are the essence of this program. If you wish to be a part of Angels for Aging, or just learn more about the program, please contact the Assistance League of Greater Placer® Committee Co-Chairs Susan Macor at firstname.lastname@example.org or Janet Patten at email@example.com.