06 Jan Be a Santa Program Providing Companionship to Seniors
During the holidays, senior citizens who live on their own often have a tough couple of weeks. Yet home healthcare, an industry that earned $72.2 billion in expenditures in 2010, is great for seniors. In home senior care professionals can help these individuals tremendously, but it’s still easy for anyone to get the holiday blues, especially as the years go by.
In two towns in Massachusetts, senior caregivers are inviting a few familiar faces into the homes of these seniors. The interesting thing, however, is that these familiar faces are actually complete strangers.
Be a Santa to a Senior is a popular program that encourages people to dress up as Santa Claus, visit lonely seniors in their own homes, and provide some holiday cheer.
According to Wicked Local, the program provides useful gifts to local seniors and is completely volunteer and non-for-profit.
“The holidays can be a troubling time for seniors,” said Martha Cashins, facilitator of the program. “They may feel the absence or the distance of loved ones. Be a Santa to a Senior provides a ray of hope for many seniors, and it means so much for them to know that people care and value them as members of our community.”
Journal-Patriot reports that the Be a Santa to a Senior program, now a nationwide campaign, began in 2003 and has provided roughly two million gifts to more than 700,000 in home seniors. Over 60,000 volunteers have participated in the holiday program as well.
Many of the gifts are everyday items like toiletries, clothes, blankets, and more, but the most important gift these volunteers provide is companionship. Aside from family members and in home senior care providers, rarely do some seniors get to enjoy outside company. This program is great to both show community support for its elders and to give them a chance to spend time with other people and build new relationships.
“We often think of children this time of year but we also need to remember other vulnerable populations,” said Todd O’Neill, another supervisor of the program. “It’s good to be able to bring a little bit of joy at a time when the intensity of feeling lonely might be increasing.”
Whether it’s companionship though their in home senior caregiver, family, close friends, or complete strangers, it’s always nice to give seniors a little more love and support around the holidays.