LOGAN – Hannah Cragun needs volunteers to serve as senior companions to homebound seniors needing friendship and independent living support in Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties.

“Because the effects of loneliness and lack of mobility on health,” Cragun explains, “senior companions are needed now more than ever.

“Companionship is essential because social isolation is just as dangerous as smoking or obesity and increases one’s risk of dementia by 50 percent.”

Cragun is the AmeriCorps volunteer coordinator for Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties.

The local Senior Companion Program has been on hiatus since April 30, 2019, when its previous sponsor – the Bear River Area Agency on Aging – bowed out. The program is now being funded by AmeriCorps Seniors, the federal government’s national organization and by UServe Utah, the state’s service commission.

Cragun says that AmerciCorps is looking for lower income volunteers who would most benefit from receiving stipends for volunteering and mileage reimbursement.

Senior Companions engages volunteers 55 and older to serve homebound seniors and adults with disabilities.

Volunteers provide friendship with weekly visits and help shut-ins age in place at home with transportation, light housekeeping, meal preparation, etc.

Senior companions also give family caregivers a break outside the home while ensuring that their loved ones are safe.

“We are aware that there is a huge need,” Cragun acknowledges, “but first we must find the volunteer force before we can serve others.”

AmeriCorps is flexible in working with volunteers’ schedules and provides volunteer stipends to make the senior companions program a win-win situation for everyone involved.

“We are also working with the Veterans Resource Center, the Bear River Area Agency on Aging and senior centers across the tri-county area to make sure we match volunteers with individuals with the highest needs,” according to Cragun.

AmeriCorps is hoping that local volunteers will join more than 170,000 senior companions across the country in reaping the benefits of volunteering. Those include strengthening a sense of purpose and social ties; attaining higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction and self-esteem; and, an increased likelihood of living longer.

For additional information, seniors can contact Cragun at 435-554-1162 or at hcragun@utah.gov

AmeriCorps works with local and national partners to tap the power of the American people to tackle our country’s most pressing challenges.

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