A new volunteer opportunity for retired and senior adults to provide companionship and respite visits is coming to Cache County, thanks to a grant recently received by the Sunshine Terrace Foundation.

“Because we work with the older adult population across a variety of things, we recognize how important it is for us as we age to stay as active as possible,” said Amy Anderson, the outreach coordinator for Sunshine Terrace.

The new grant will allow Sunshine Terrace to bring the national Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, back to the area. Unlike some other federal volunteer programs, RSVP is very flexible and can be adjusted to meet the needs of the community it serves.

Although the program has been implemented in Cache County before, the purpose of it is different this time. Under this iteration of the program, Sunshine Terrace will be focused on providing support to older adults, especially people with dementia. This support will be in the form of companionship visits for seniors who may be lonely and respite visits for people who are caring for seniors.

“Older adults in the community, whether they are living in their own homes or are living in facilities, they are likely to be lonesome, and that is a problem,” said RSVP coordinator Mindy Dokos. “There are health risks, emotional and physical and even mental health risks associated with loneliness.”

Respite visits will build on this goal by not only providing someone with companionship but also providing support for caregivers.

“I am really excited to see it in action,” Dokos said, “to see lives start to change. The volunteers themselves are going to benefit from it, and I think a lot of people don’t even realize how much of a difference they are going to make until they start volunteering.

According to Anderson, the research shows it is important for individuals to give back as they age.

“The sense of purpose, the sense of identity that you get from volunteering is so important,” Anderson said. “I think frequently people don’t know what they are capable of doing because they don’t even know what the opportunities are.”

To learn more about volunteering or request a companionship or respite visit, call Dokos at (435)760-4472.

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