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Residents, now you can ‘adopt’ a senior citizen!

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A resident at Malabar Home for the Aged, Susie Buys (left) meets Letchmee Naidoo – Director of Donor Funding and Events for the “Adopt-A-Parent” Foundation.                             Photo: Judy de Vega
A resident at Malabar Home for the Aged, Susie Buys (left) meets Letchmee Naidoo – Director of Donor Funding and Events for the “Adopt-A-Parent” Foundation. Photo: Judy de Vega
Photo: Judy de Vega

The elderly are a vulnerable group within society sometimes taken for granted and, in cases where they have been placed in retirement homes, forgotten about by some family members and friends.

There is now an opportunity for residents of Nelson Mandela Bay to make a difference and enrich the lives of the elderly by “adopting” them through the “Adopt-A-Parent” Foundation’s initiative.

The foundation was established to pair senior citizens within the community with caring individuals who touch base regularly to keep the elderly feeling loved and taken care of.

This is not a legal adoption process, but rather a simulation of a parent-child relationship.

Director of donor funding and events, Letchmee Naidoo, said that being vulnerable and sometimes forgotten, leads the elderly to experience solitude, confusion and a general feeling of no longer belonging within a community or their family.

“The aim of the foundation is to ‘close the gap’ in the last lap of the journey of the seniors enrolled in the programme by offering them some added care, comfort and a retained sense of importance and belonging so that the feeling of loneliness is reduced, and their dignity restored,” she explained.

She added that some of the tasks that adopters would have to fulfil would be to call their adoptees on birthdays or other special days but the only difference is that adopters would receive guidance on how to do it right.

Those interested in adopting a parent or volunteering can visit the foundation’s website, adopt.africa, and find all the relevant application forms.

The programme is also open to senior citizens who are not in retirement homes but mostly alone at home.

If someone knows of such an elderly person, they are welcome to register the person on the website.

“There will be interviews with those applying to adopt and the volunteers to really find out what their intentions are and there will be certain criteria that they would have to meet.

“We will be relying on God’s guidance to help us here,” she said.

“We want individuals who will have a passion to connect with someone, maybe an individual who has not had a relationship with or lost their parents. They must have a particular need to want to make a difference in the life of the adoptee and we are going to take our time trying to identify that individual.

“Once they have been accepted as adopters, we are going to give them training to get them to understand the do’s and don’ts and that the elderly possibly have dementia and might say things about people. We will train them how to navigate through that. The elderly will also receive guidance.”

Letchmee emphasised that contact with the elderly would remain telephonic for the first three months of the programme. Adopters may then be allowed to start visiting the homes, but only those adoptees that live in old age homes.

“This will be under controlled circumstances and meetings will take place in general areas of the old age homes. People can also adopt more than one parent at a time and they are more than welcome to buy items for their adoptees, help them make up their rooms or even donate towards the upkeep of the elderly person if they so wish.”

Naidoo has emphasised that each adopter and adoptee will have to sign a contract.

Where the elderly cannot sign themselves, a next-of-kin will do so.

She also said that although the launch recently took place at the Malabar Home for the Aged, the programme is aimed at all old age homes.

The foundation would also like this initiative to expand nationally and throughout the continent.

“We are excited about this programme and the prospect of doing something to enrich the lives of the elderly,” Naidoo said.

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