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The Peer Counseling Program trains seniors to counsel a homebound senior that s/he will visit once/week for an hour. This program is meant to address the needs of the volunteers as well.
The Peer Counseling Program was created by Dr. Evelyn Freeman from the Center for Healthy Aging in Santa Monica, CA, and has been successfully operating for over 25 years in various states & countries as well. Its purpose is to relieve the isolation and loneliness of homebound seniors, 60 years of age or older. But, the uniqueness of this program is that it is 2-pronged: it addresses the needs of the volunteers as well. Volunteers attend a 40-hour counseling training program which includes role plays, information on various subjects about aging, and guest speakers, that is fun, informative, and supportive. After each person is matched with a client, the group receives on-going support and supervision once/week. During this time, they discuss cases and aging issues with other counselors and the supervisor and will receive ongoing training with guest speakers. This group also becomes the volunteers' own support network of like-minded people. Peer Counselors receive many benefits as well:
* It provides stimulation through learning & social contacts.
* It offers them new roles, creates a new sense of identity and increases self-esteem.
* It adds a sense of purpose and meaning to their lives.
* It establishes a link with the community and decreases loneliness & isolation.
Some of the volunteers have been with the program almost 4 years and really get a sense that their lives are meaningful.
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