Senior Outreach Sevier offers services to homebound seniors

Nov. 25, 2013 @ 12:23 AM

The “Senior Outreach Sevier” program, or SOS, at the Sevier County Senior Center helps home-bound seniors through visits from volunteers who bring necessities and provide various forms of assistance for seniors.

Sevier County Senior Center Director Jane Howes said that the assistance provided by the SOS program is wide-ranging. While the Senior Center has some supplies and necessities ready to hand out, such as walkers and undergarments, the program includes more than that. Some volunteers might lend a hand with household chores, while others will help with mobility issues and transportation.

“Volunteers will take them to the doctor, but they’ll take the extra step,” Howes said. “They’ll go into the office and stay to maybe ask the doctor questions that they (the seniors) might not think of or might forget.”

Occasionally the assistance comes in the form of simply checking in and keeping someone company. “It’s a nice little network of people who go and visit people in need of socialization,” Howe said. “Just make sure they’re doing OK a couple of times a month.”

While many of the seniors who are helped by the program are referred by hospitals and nursing facilities, some are called in by individuals.

“Sometimes family members will be in town visiting a dad or an uncle and say something like, ‘I didn’t realize he declined so much; I would really like someone to check in on him,’” Howes said. “A lot of times it’s a neighbor who is trying to help out and tells us that someone needs a visit and a little extra help.”

Another service offered by the Senior Center is the Mobile Meals program, which is targeted at seniors who are either on a waiting list for Meals on Wheels, or do not qualify for that program.

“They started to get quite a few people on a waiting list, so the staff at the Senior Center put together our own program, partially funded by United Way,” Howes said. “We’ll deliver frozen meals, so they can just pop it in the microwave.”

The program is on a sliding scale, Howes said, which means only seniors who can afford the cost of the meal have to pay. “For those who are at the poverty level or below, there’s no charge for the meals,” Howes said.

Howes emphasized that neither of the programs would be possible without the time and effort from volunteers. “We’ve been very blessed,” Howes said. “We have good core groups. Volunteers will tell their friends, church groups will call and ask how they can help.”

Many volunteers receive training, which provides information on what services are available in the community that a senior could be referred to.

“We always need volunteers,” Howes said. “You never know how many you’re going to have.”

If you know someone who needs assistance that could be provided by the SOS or Mobile Meals programs, or if you’re interested in volunteering, call the Sevier County Senior Center at 865-453-8080, or contact Jane Howes by email at jhowes@seviercountytn.org.