Seniors offer companionship for their peers

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by SHELLY SLATER

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaashelly

WFAA

Posted on August 3, 2011 at 8:26 PM

A new senior companion program is allowing seniors to stay independent longer.

The Senior Source has a matching program were senior volunteers are matched with senior companions to help with everyday chores.

Every morning at 9 o'clock, 77-year-old Korean War veteran Ben Mitchell sits down for Bible study, but he needs a little extra help reading; he is blind.

"I just take it day by day and go from there," he said.

Mitchell's wife died two years ago and his daughter works full-time.

That's where Edith Bell comes in. She's a volunteer with The Senior Source, part of a program matching senior companions with senior clients.

Her visit gives Mitchell both a helper and a friend he can relate to.

"A 20-year-old can tell you do something, but it's a lot different if it's coming from a friend who's more of a peer," explained Gretchen Feinhals, a Senior Source program director.

Bell took on this role to help Mitchell live his life through a different set of eyes. "Whatever he needs, I'll do it for him," she said. "If he needs to go to the vet, I take him... go to the dentist, I take him."

Five days a week, Edith does laundry and cooks for Mitchell. But that's not what is most important here.

It's the companionship from someone about the same age which raises the trust factor.

"By me losing my sight and everything, she can guide me," Mitchell said. "There's so many things around the house that she can do for me, to make me go through the day."

But their companionship is more than that. It's a friendship.

"You have something going within you for these people," Bell said. "You don't mind taking that extra step if they need it... that's me!"

"She's a wonderful person," Mitchell added. "It just keeps my day happy."

Especially knowing that tomorrow, she'll be back again.

So far, The Senior Source has 98 senior companions assisting 110 clients in need throughout North Texas. Click here for more information if you are interesting in volunteering or getting help from this free program.

E-mail sslater@wfaa.com

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