On any given day, Mary Anne Shipley helps a senior or disabled resident keep their independence. She is one of seven Senior Companions serving Lincoln County through Samaritan Health Services. The countywide program pairs adult helpers with homebound people in need.
“I take my companions grocery shopping or to doctors’ appointments mostly, but some days, we just go for drives so they can see something new,” Shipley said.
Senior Companions are adults, 55 years of age or older, who provide basic services such as providing transportation to and from appointments and errands, as well as offering companionship and friendship to people who live alone and cannot drive. Companions commit to working at least 15 hours a week.
“Mostly, what people need is someone to talk to,” Shipley said.
According to Melissa Maxon, coordinator of the Senior Companion Program in Lincoln County, there is currently a countywide shortage of Senior Companions.
“We really need some additional companions to help. Right now, we have 23 people on a waiting list hoping to be matched with someone,” she said.
Senior Companions who qualify receive a tax-free hourly stipend, supplemental liability insurance and mileage reimbursement.
Shipley said she doesn’t do it for the money. “I wouldn’t quit doing this for anything,” she said. “It makes my life so much more valuable, even to me. I do this to give back, and the gratitude I receive is overwhelming. My help allows them to stay living in their own homes, and they are really grateful for that.”
To learn more about the Senior Companion Program, visit samhealth.org/Volunteer, or contact Melissa Maxon at 541-574-4714.