CBS News recently published an article describing how loneliness is the most challenging part of aging, due to the loss of loved ones and friends. A Pennsylvania program is helping to change this by sending companions to visit elderly people who may otherwise have no one to talk to.
Pamela Liddell, who is sixty-four years old, is a volunteer with the Senior Companion Program in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This is a department of the Human Services program that receives federal funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Liddell volunteers in the Pittsburgh area and visits several homebound people a week.
She is assigned to ninety-year-old Josephine Toia, who she visits twice a week for three hours at a time. While Liddell says she becomes friends with all the people she visits, she and Toia have a special bond. Both women grew up in the Pittsburgh area, have three kids, and are now great-grandmothers. This is the point of the program—to pair seniors and volunteers who have something in common.
When I was in my sixties, I lived alone in the country and my home was adjacent to a widow’s property. Every year she planted a large vegetable garden and also harvested fruit trees. Several times a week we would visit each other—sometimes at her house, sometimes at mine. She enjoyed telling me about the history of her life—her husband, children, and grandchildren. Even though I didn’t speak her native Spanish language, she spoke English quite well and told of the many things that occurred during her life on that land. This included how the nearby river sometimes flooded the crops of people she knew. It was encouraging to hear her describe how the people in the area helped each other during hard times.
Dear Reader, have you experienced times of loneliness during which others have befriended you in various ways? Comments are much appreciated, and may inspire others to visit and befriend a lonely person.