Program to match volunteers, older adults

BROOKINGS – Volunteers are needed for a new program in Brookings County that will connect older adults to their community and build social relationships.

Better Together, a program of Lutheran Social Services, was designed to improve quality of life activities for older adults.

The program will expand to Brookings this fall and aims to have 10 pairs in its first year.

Trained volunteers will be matched with an older adult based on similar interests and schedule. Volunteer and older adult matches will spend four hours per month together going on outings, talking, pursuing hobbies, and other relationship-building activities.

To help carry out the program in Brookings, LSS has partnered with the Volunteer Service Bank. This organization, embarking on its 25th year of service, will assist with local coordination and will help both volunteers and seniors get started.

Nearly half of people aged 65 and older in South Dakota live alone. Nationally, researchers have found that feelings of loneliness can contribute to reduced physical health, cognitive decline and dementia and more.

“We launched Better Together in Sioux Falls in 2015 and have seen success,” said Michelle Madsen, LSS mentoring services director. “We’re looking forward to replicating those relationships in Brookings and serve people who need that extra support and friendship that a volunteer might be able to provide.”

Individuals, families or small groups can volunteer for the Better Together program. At least one member of the group must be over the age of 18.

Older adults interested in being matched with a volunteer must be 65 years old and live in their own home or apartment. There are no guidelines other than age to participate in the program.

For more information about the Better Together program, contact LSS at 605-444-7801 or email [email protected]

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