It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day demands of leading a busy life, but it’s important to remember there are pockets of our community that face barriers to human interaction which can lead to ongoing loneliness and depression.
When Ken Dewe was visiting his wife Jean in her nursing home, he witnessed firsthand how rarely some people received visitors of their own.
Being so close with his own family, Ken felt for the people who had nobody.
“My wife was in a nursing home for two-and-a-half years before she passed away, and I saw other people in there who just didn’t have anyone visiting them at all… at any time whatsoever,” he said.
“I just thought it was not quite right that someone be left alone without relatives coming.
“Of course they may be overseas or in other parts of the country, but sometimes it seemed like they just didn’t care.
“The staff said it happened more times than you’d know, and that’s why I wanted to volunteer.”
Ken met many people during his time visiting Jean, and one such person was IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) Coordinator Heather Hinsbey.
He said Heather was visiting other residents there and they would talk about various subjects related to the aged in the Bundaberg region.
“Loneliness itself is a bit of a disease,” Ken said.
“We’re a herd animal and we need to be sociable.”
Ken now visits two elderly people and likes to think his company provides some comfort to them.
“They quite like it, but unfortunately I’ve got a terrible sense of humour,” he joked.
“I just try and cheer people up… the real art of it is listening.”
Ken said sometimes all they want is a small chat, or to be asked how they are and how they’re feeling that day, which is so simple to do.
“I thought I’ll try and do my little bit,” he said.
“It’s much easier to smile than frown.”
You too can make a positive difference in an elderly person’s life, for as little as an hour a week.
Heather said people usually started volunteering for the benefit it provided to the elderly, but volunteers soon realise how rewarding the experience is for them as well.
“It’s not a job, it’s a joy,” Heather said.
The CVS program operates in Bundaberg, Monto, Gayndah, Childers and Gin Gin and will be attending the Gin Gin Seniors Expo on Thursday August 19.
To find out more about CVS and the wonderful impact you could make, phone Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233 or visit impact.org.au/volunteer.