The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

October 12, 2013

From the Office: Seniors can make a difference by volunteering

The Daily Star

---- — Are you retired? 

Like many retirees, you have worked for many years, raised your family, and participated within your community. Now it is time for you to look at what you want to do every day, a way to give back and make a difference. 

Offices for the Aging are just the place to start to look into that option. Not only will you find compassionate individuals working there, but there are a host of opportunities from which to choose. Time commitments and personal strengths are some ways to help guide you in your process. The opportunities here in our Schoharie office can also be seasonally based.

If you love to drive, one popular option is transporting seniors to medical appointments. Our medical transport volunteers use their personal vehicles to bring older adults who do not drive to their doctors or dentists. They receive a small stipend for mileage and travel the county as they bring people to the various providers.

If you have enjoyed doing your own taxes over the years, then the AARP-sponsored tax preparation program is a great seasonal option. There is training that supports the volunteers as they work through the new changes to tax law. A Web-based program assists with the calculations and provides all the forms needed. This opportunity runs February through April.

If speaking on the phone is something you love, then our friendly caller program is for you. We connect volunteers to those who are home-bound and lonely so that weekly calls (sometimes daily) can be made to check in and find out how older adults are doing. These are often the lifeline to the outside world and mean so much to the person who is getting the call. You don’t need to have any special training, just the gift of chatting.

One of the most rewarding volunteer opportunities is the Ombudsman Program. The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is a resident-focused advocacy program. The Ombudsman volunteers are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, assisted-living facilities and similar adult-care facilities. They work to resolve problems of individual residents and to bring about changes at the local, state and national levels to improve care. While most residents receive good care in long-term care facilities, far too many are neglected, and unfortunate incidents of abuse do occur. 

Trained volunteers regularly visit facilities, monitor conditions and care. Volunteers provide a voice for those unable to speak for themselves. In-depth training gives these special volunteers the tools and information necessary to assure the frailest individuals of their basic rights to the services and care they deserve. The coordinator provides monthly in-service meetings with training to make sure everyone is kept up-to-date on changing issues. A small time and mileage stipend assists with the cost of travel to our local facilities.

So if you have time on your hands and would like to assist with older adults, please call us. We will discuss your options and go from there. Thank you for considering us when you decide how you would like to spend your time.

Nancy Dingee is director of the Schoharie County Office for the Aging. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at