AGE strives to help elderly stay in own homes

Published 9:13 am Thursday, March 19, 2009

Assisting Glenville’s Elders is a new volunteer group helping elderly people stay in their own homes.

AGE has its own local board, but it’s part of Elderberry, which has 43 similar groups throughout the state whose main mission is to provide volunteers to help elderly people in the Glenville area with chores and household duties so they can remain in their homes, if that’s what they choose, said Peg Shelton, who is serving as a volunteer and a coach.

“This is just one more thing that helps elderly people stay in their own home and be safe,” said Peg Shelton, who was involved with a similar group in Pine Island and is now serving as a coach in Glenville. “Because for a lot of people this is their choice, they would like to be in their own home.”

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Transportation is a key service AGE provides, and volunteers often drive people to get medicine and to doctor’s appointments, and volunteers have even driven one man to the veteran’s hospital in St. Paul, Shelton said.

“The biggest thing is transportation,” Shelton said. “That’s the very biggest thing, because there are people who can get along well in their home, but they maybe can’t drive anymore – for whatever reason. And there were little old ladies going to nursing homes because they didn’t drive anymore, and that’s not a reason to be in a nursing home.”

Shelton said groups like AGE do not oppose nursing homes and often work with them, the groups just want people to be able to remain in their homes if they are able and safe.

Joy Behr, director, said volunteers are reimbursed for mileage. Shelton said there are currently about 15 people who’ve volunteered, and 25 people who have received help.

Volunteers bring meals to about 15 people in the community three times a week. Some other services AGE provides include light chores, friendly visiting, respite care and other things. Services being provided by the county or other groups are not duplicated.

“We have a list of volunteers, and if somebody calls and wants a specific thing done, then [Behr] goes to the volunteer list to see if she can find somebody to do it,” Shelton said.

“Good example,” Behr added, “[Shelton’s] in her home. She needs her medication today. She’s sick. She calls me, I call a volunteer, and he goes to get them or she goes with you to go and get them.”

Safety is important, and Shelton said AGE is helping people get Lifeline systems. People over 65 can receive Lifelines, which includes bracelets and necklaces worn by a person so he or she can push a button to seek help after a fall or an accident in their home. AGE offers to pay the $45 installation fee and the first month’s rent of $25.50, Shelton said. There are limitations to the services AGE provides. No personal care can be provided, Shelton said, and there’s no hands-on care for people who don’t walk well, for example.

Behr said that some people are afraid to come forward and admit they need help.

“They don’t want to admit that they need help …” Shelton said. “This says in their mind, ‘I’m starting to let go of my life,’ and they don’t want to let go of their life. What they don’t realize is, if they don’t let a group like this help, then when they have a crisis, they’re not going to be in their home anymore.”

Shelton said she wants people who may be hesitant to seek help to know that there’s confidentiality, and the volunteer won’t talk about his or her experiences with others.

AGE serves an area similar to Glenville’s old school district, which includes areas past Myrtle to the east, the state line to the south and west to about Interstate 35.

Those who wish to volunteer or receive a service can contact AGE at 448-0028 or at