Interfaith Caregivers, who had their beginnings in 1996, is working hard to keep up with technology and make life easier for the people who use their services.
“That is our goal, to help seniors maintain independence, dignity and quality of life by coordinating volunteers for a variety of services and non-medical care,” director Dan Woodring shares. “There is now a caregiver-to-caregiver blog where people contribute things related to items being discussed such as Alzheimers or Parkinson’s disease.”
He says the use of technology is one of the biggest changes he has seen over the years.
“Twenty years ago hardly anybody had a cell phone,” Woodring says. “The pandemic introduced new technology to many people who learned how to communicate through virtual meetings.”
The Interfaith Caregivers board continues to hold virtual meetings, according to Woodring.
“We were even able to continue having worship services using technology,” he notes. “People probably never thought they would be doing things they watched on the Jetsons television show growing up.”
Woodring says COVID-19 caused some difficulties for the group.
“At first we canceled our support groups,” Woodring comments. “We did restart them late in the fall and have been having them ever since. We have been doing caregiver consulting over the phone and are actually serving more people. People have felt more isolated so we provide counseling over the phone.”
Another thing which has decreased are the in-home visits where caretakers would clean and do chores, according to Woodring.
“The transportation needs have remained close to normal because people still have appointments they need to go to,” Woodring says. “Some of our volunteers took a break during the pandemic but are now returning.”
Woodring shares the group has expanded their Alertlink system.
“In the past you had to have a land-line to use the service,” Woodring explained. “The updated system connects to the help center using 4G cellular technology, has GPS, Wi-Fi, is water resistant and has a battery life of three days and is rechargeable.”
Woodring encourages people to seek assistance.
“Isolation among seniors is a big problem,” he comments. “AARP has come out and said research shows prolonged social isolation and loneliness is worse for your health than obesity and as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
He says he knows many people are resistant to asking for help just like people can be resistant to technology.
“But we want people to know Interfaith is here to help and keep people in their homes as long as possible,” Woodring concludes.
People can access the updated website for Interfaith Caregivers at interfaithcaregivers.net.