Seniors, the elderly, loneliness, isolation; these are all words often used together. It is a very common problem for people to feel alone as they age which unfortunately only worsens since the elderly friends they do have, pass away. People are often trying to create programs or brainstorm ideas on how to tackle this issue. The digital era has brought some challenges and opportunities with it for these demographics as well.
Abbie Hartford — a graduating psychology senior from the University of Maine – took this issue on as a project. He established a program for the community to enhance the quality of life for seniors living in group homes experiencing loneliness. Hartford has long been an advocate for community service and was the driving force behind the UMF Senior Buddy program aimed at connecting students with the elderly.
The student volunteers responded really well to the program. It did not take long for around 50 students to volunteer an hour a week of their time. Hartford explained:
“It’s such a simple thing, to spend an hour a week with a senior living in a facility. But it’s so fulfilling to see the positive difference it makes in both the residents’ and the students’ lives.”