New program helps senior citizens, elderly shut-ins news find a gas station near me


Senior citizens living alone might not have anyone to change a light bulb or do minor home repairs.And senior shut-ins without families nearby may not have sufficient food, said School Resource Officer Sgt. Patty Hillis.Because of those needs, SRO John Acton researched and located the Senior Citizens Awareness Network program designed to provide services for seniors with volunteers."What a novel idea to reach out to a person of our population that most people have forgotten and let them know they’re not forgotten," said Acton, who as a patrol officer encountered many senior citizens who just didn’t have anyone to check on them on a regular basis.Acton and Hillis proposed starting a similar SCAN program in Rutherford County to Sheriff Robert F. Arnold, who endorsed the concept of volunteers operating in cooperation with the sheriff’s office. They hope to launch the program this summer. It will be the fifth SCAN in the state with programs in Wilson, Shelby, Knox and Rhea counties.To learn about the program, Acton and Hills spent time with Wilson County Sheriff’s Office’s 10-year-old SCAN team where Acton changed a light bulb for a senior and he and Hillis visited with seniors. One World War II veteran who was over 90 years old played the banjo for them.On a more serious note, they learned about a senior who used quilts to cover broken windows in the winter. SCAN located a contractor who replaced the windows. Another senior needed wood for a wood-burning heating system. Someone donated a rick of wood.To launch the program in Rutherford County, SCAN will rely on volunteers who will visit senior citizens in their area of the county. Volunteers will donate 12 to 16 hours per month of their time to visit with seniors. Hills and Acton hope retired residents, church members or other citizens will participate. SCAN Volunteers must pass a criminal background check and have a valid driver’s license.A volunteer coordinator will visit with the senior initially, then train and arrange visits between the senior and volunteers and ensure needs are met."We need volunteers for all aspects and professions," Acton said."The volunteers would be trained in such areas as basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, home security, radio procedures and education about local and community services and programs," Hillis said.The success of the program is having community volunteers who are skilled in plumbing, electrical work, concrete, yard work and maintenance.SCAN volunteers will conduct a home security survey to determine needs such as operational smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and adequate door locks and outdoor lighting. They will work with the senior to determine any needs such as plumbing or electrical work, maintenance or yard work.Hillis said many of the seniors may not have family members to check on them."If they don’t have means to get food, volunteers will hook them up with Meals on Wheels," a program where volunteers deliver hot meals to shut-ins and seniors. Or the volunteer might arrange to obtain food from a food bank or church groups. Also, SCAN needs cash donations to use for seniors who need help paying water or electric bills or money for unexpected emergencies.Acton and Hillis, who both work in the schools, suggested students might volunteer to do yard work. Students in auto mechanics classes might be willing to work on seniors’ cars to pass auto emissions. Church youth group members might volunteer to clean yards.If needed, volunteers will make referrals to families, home health care agencies, churches, the Department of Human Services and community service agenciesWhile all of the services are of true value, the most important component is the actual visit."Volunteers taking the time to sit and visit on a regular basis are the foundation of the program," Hillis said. "This single aspect keeps the senior connected to their community. Interaction with individuals outside their family proves to bring to their lives an understanding that their community is interested in their well-being."The program will be funded by private donations to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office’s SCAN program to serve all senior citizens. Hillis and Acton hope to explain the program and recruit volunteers at community civic groups. People who are interested in scheduling a talk, donating money or volunteering their time may call Acton or Hillis at 898-7770.Once organizing the volunteers, SCAN will take referrals of seniors who might want to register for services.Hillis said many of the seniors have so much pride "they’re almost too proud to take help."Acton said community involvement will be the key to SCAN’s success."It’s our responsibility to keep an eye on the elderly," Acton said.