Y-Serve’s Adopt-a-Grandparent program is seeking volunteers who will get to know, serve, love and bond with a resident of a local elderly living center.
“The main role of the student would be to give the residents a chance to make a new friend,” McGhie said. “A lot of residents don’t have family that lives close by, so the students’ role is to be kind of like a grandchild role, to be there for them.”
Reyna McGhie, a co-director for the Adopt-a-Grandparent program said volunteer students provide the elderly with family-like attention.
Adopt-a-Grandparent works closely with several centers in the Provo-Orem area, but currently needs help with Cove Point Assisted Living, Provo Rehabilitation & Nursing and Lake Ridge Retirement Center.
LuAnne Allred is the activities director at Lake Ridge. She said she clearly sees the importance of the Adopt-a-Grandparent program.
“That is a huge and important thing at our place,” Allred said. “We look to Adopt-a-Grandparent kids to come and supplement where I can’t do it all. We’ve got some amazing people that come and go over and above.”
The activities that occur between student and “grandparent” vary based on the needs, interest and hobbies of each resident. Ideas for activities include talking, playing instruments or listening to music, playing games, helping the grandparent write letters or with their genealogy, knitting or crafts.
“I’ve met a lot of residents and they all have different needs,” McGhie said. “There was one lady who just wanted someone to come and watch TV with her for an hour. There was another who wanted to talk. It kind of depends on the person.”
Allred said the activities and services provided by the student may seem overly simple or unimportant; the employees and workers within the facilities know differently. Allred plans activities such as picnics or trips to Walmart or Deseret Industries. However, she said even the trips aren’t enough to keep them busy and that most of the employees are busy cooking or cleaning the facility.
“A lot of the people keep busy because it is assisted living but a lot of people are looking for ways to keep them busy,” Allred said. “I can’t keep them busy all the time because I am divided in where I need to be.”
There are several residents at Lake Ridge who miss their former life and relationships prior to the center. Kaye Hoskins is from Fairview, Utah, and has lived in the center for three months.
Hoskins said she had a difficult time when she first moved. She missed her friends and dog she left behind. Her friends and family try to visit her as often as they can, but Hoskins said she occasionally feels lonely.
“I’m most happy when I’m around people and being with family,” Hoskins said. “It’s always fun.”
The need for human interaction and affection is essential for all people, regardless of age, according to Allred. Residents like Hoskins miss that support. Allred said the students who participate through the Adopt-a-Grandparent program can help provide that need to the elderly.
“Some people just don’t have family that comes, so to have someone that comes and shows (the elderly) that they love them, it’s pretty tender,” Allred said. “Just to have someone care about you when you’re an old grandma when you sometimes feel abandoned is pretty important.”
Students wishing to get involved with the Adopt-a-Grandparent program may fill out a form located on the BYU Y-Serve page. McGhie has been involved with the program since last August and said she feels students should give the program a try.
“Maybe sometimes people think that it’s slow or they’re unsure of what (the elderly) will say, but when you get past the first part, I think they become more open and we become friends more quickly.” McGhie said.
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