Senior services: helping you age your way

“Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” – David Bowie

RIDGECREST REGIONAL HOSPITAL — In 1963, President John F. Kennedy designated May as “Older Americans Month” to celebrate and acknowledge the many contributions that our elder generations have made to our country. Since then, the month has been set aside as a time to pay tribute.

“This year's theme is 'Age My Way,' and the focus is to allow older adults to plan to stay in their homes and live independently in their communities for as long as possible,” said Susan Bodnar, director of Senior Services of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

Bodnar and her staff work with individuals and families to help people “age in place.” She noted this is a primary concern for senior citizens, who worry they will have to move into an assisted-living facility, with their children, or in a skilled nursing facility. “Most folks want to remain in their homes.”

Senior Services offer a variety of supports — from homemaking to case management, that allow many people to remain living on their own longer than they could without assistance.

“We find folks have a difficult time with household chores such as cleaning the bathrooms, mopping, vacuuming and changing the bed linens — and we are here to help,” said Bodnar.

“When their children start to notice that Mom or Dad don’t keep the house as clean as they once did or forget to pay their bills, the kids begin to become concerned and think their parents should not be living alone.”

Rosie Holtrop was able to recognize that need in herself. She was already familiar with RRH outreach through the Rock-Steady Boxing classes. After John, her husband of 59 years, died last year from Parkinson's-related complications, Rosie found it difficult to manage some of her routine household maintenance.

She called Senior Services, who assigned Hayli McCormick to come help her every other week. After a while, the two became friends, and now Haylie stays and visits with Rosie after the chores are done.

“I think this is a really important component of support — having companionship,” said Bodnar. “People get lonely, and that by itself can take a toll on your health.

“But there's another important thing happening that I think is worth mentioning: Rosie is from an older generation, and Hayli is one of our youngest employees. It's important, culturally as well as individually, that we create and sustain these kind of inter-generational relationships.”

Senior Services can also assist with grocery shopping, paying bills, scheduling medical appointments and finding transportation. The agency also works with other senior support services, such as Meals on Wheels and the Alzheimer's Association, to connect individuals with diagnoses to the care and support they need.

“We are available to assist folks with finding other resources that may be available in our community,” said Bodnar. “We also have a volunteer who calls folks at least once a month to check in on them and to see if they need any other assistance, and it provides them a friendly person to talk to, especially during these trying times when folks haven’t been able to get out.”

Do you, or someone you know, qualify for support? You can call Bodnar at 760-371-1445 to find out.