The Book of Common Prayer has a prayer for the aged.
Look with mercy, O God our Father, on all whose increasing years bring them weakness, distress, or isolation. Provide for them homes of dignity and peace; give them understanding helpers, and the willingness to accept help; and, as their strength diminishes, increase their faith and their assurance of your love. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A lovely prayer, but providing proper care for aging adults requires more than the power of prayer. It requires work.
It takes the kind of work being done by the staff and trained volunteers at Senior Connections: The Capital Area Agency on Aging, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower older adults to live with dignity, to choose where they live, to receive proper medical care, to be fed nourishing meals, to spend time socializing with others.
Serving eight localities -- Richmond and seven surrounding counties -- the agency offers 20 unique services providing services for older adults and their caregivers in a variety of ways.
“For example, we provided more than 180,000 meals last year,” said Amy Strite, the agency’s executive director who oversees the day-to-day operation at its headquarters, 1300 Semmes Avenue in South Richmond.
Many services are tailored to help seniors remain in their homes. These services include:
- Home-delivered meals.
- Help with money-management and paying bills.
- In-home personal care services.
- Transportation to and from appointments.
- Home visits for safety checks and socialization.
“Isolation is a huge problem, so opportunities to socialize is important,” said Amy. “We have Friendship Cafes in 25 neighborhoods, where seniors gather to stay connected.”
In a comment posted on the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation’s website, Amy wrote: “We are, at every age, inherently social and relational creatures. We need to see one another, talk with each other, hold hands, and laugh together. It is necessary for good health and a good life, whether we are six months old or 96 years old, and every age in between.”
This month the agency introduced a 4-year Area Plan listing programs and services to help people age successfully in the coming years, with special emphasis on older adults who have the greatest needs due to poverty, inadequate housing, or who have no family members able or willing to be caregivers.
“Aging is a justice issue,” Amy said. “How do we in our society see and treat older adults? How committed are we on a policy level to seeing that all people are able to age with dignity, to have their basic human needs met? What value do we afford those people in our society who are professional caregivers for older adults and people with disabilities? These are the questions we must ask ourselves and our communities. Too often older adults and those who care for them are forgotten and unseen. We need to change that by becoming informed advocates.”
She added: “Love God. Love neighbor, Love self. This is why I do the work I do, and why I believe it is important for all of us to advocate for a more just world.” – Steve Clark
(The agency’s website is seniorconnections-va.org