Relieving isolation

Losing your spouse changes everything. The person you came to know better than yourself and relied upon for companionship, conversation and connection for so long is now not there and what is left can feel like a huge empty space.

Sometimes a bit of that space can be filled by a new friend who makes time just for you each week.

Over the last three years, Senior Companion Jackie has gotten to know her client Alliya through weekly visits. In 2009 Alliya lost her husband and a few years after that sought out ways to help her meet new people and feel connected again to her community. Jackie is also a widow so their shared experiences with grief and loss gave them a starting point to get to know each other.

Each week Jackie and Alliya share some of their time and some of themselves with each other. Over the three years they have gotten to be good friends. Their weekly visits may consist of some shopping together or getting to doctor’s appointments or just out to eat to enjoy each other’s company. They find that after the three years they have developed a good level of trust and understanding so they can talk about anything. This is especially important for Alliya who struggles on and off with severe depression. Knowing she can count on Jackie to talk with and make sure she gets to her doctor appointments is very important.
Often they attend yoga at the local Y which keeps them both healthy and balanced. They also enjoy just getting out to the parks when the weather is nice to sit and chat.

Jackie enjoys how much she has learned about Alliya’s homeland of Egypt and what her family life was like there.

Alliya really appreciates that Jackie makes time just for her – this makes her feel appreciated. She ‘listens to me, talks about anything with me, this is very important.’ Alliya also really enjoys that the program matches peers to peers as they have the ability to connect on many levels that she may not have with someone of a different generation or with different life experiences.

For Alliya the Senior Companion Program makes all the difference in the world. For an isolated elder that struggles with depression it is essential that she have an opportunity for that weekly connection and to find a true friend so at the end of the day Alliya can say - “She makes me happy.”

-Ann Terlizzi