Free Online Counseling For Seniors

Free Counseling For Senior Adults

Having the right person to talk to leads to better emotional and physical health.

Funding Goal: $2,000
 
Program Goal:  Provide a free or low-cost digital platform to connect volunteer senior peer counselors (SPCs) and clients within a secure and confidential online environment.

This can be accomplished with:
     --  Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates to protect our hosting website; 
     --  SeniorPeerCounseling.net online ‘meeting rooms’;
     --  proprietary chat widget (box) installed in meeting rooms;
     --  highly secure common Virtual Private Network (VPN) connecting SPCs and Clients.

Program: Unresolved fears of Covid-19 can easily lead to greater isolation, already of epidemic proportions among seniors, and can escalate into depression and degenerative health issues.

Due to the Corona-virus, Covid-19, the non-profit agency where I volunteer as a Senior Peer Counselor recently announced cessation of in-home face-to-face counseling sessions with clients until further notice. Even though it may not be a totally secure medium, tele-counseling with phones and video-conferencing, will be permitted to interact with clients. The Covid-19 issue is only one of many reasons for the need of alternative methods for SPCs to interact with clients.

Even before Covid-19, many seniors were barred from counseling because of:
     --  no appropriate place to meet with a counselor,
     --  geographic isolation,
     --  lack of transportation,
     --  severe hearing loss,
     --  physical limitations,
     --  speech impediment,
     --  communicable disease,
     --  sight impairment,
     --  desire to maintain anonymity and total privacy.
The list could go on to include all of the many ramifications of grief and the loss of abilities.

I am a senior peer counselor (SPC), retired businessman, and a part-time para-transit driver for a non-profit agency that provides a variety of support services for senior adults.  As an SPC I have completed over 115 volunteer hours:
     --  35 hours of training over 14 weeks by MFT licensed counselors,
     --  50 hours of in-service training, and
     --  30 hours of supervised in-home sessions with various clients.
SPCs do not practice therapy, and when the need for therapy is recognized, clients are referred to licensed professionals.

SPCs across the country are senior volunteers trained to listen non-judgmentally with compassion, understanding, and in strict confidence to their senior clients. SPCs are 'peers' in that they too are seniors on life's journey, enabling them to relate more closely to their client's issues. Clients can freely share their grief from loss of a loved one, loss of abilities, or other personal matters.

SPCs don't give legal, medical, or financial advice, and are not usually licensed 'therapists'. SPCs can assist seniors in the process of finding and applying for available resources to help meet their nutritional, housing, transportation, health or medical needs.

An online or phone solution is not for every senior or for every SPC, but it would be very useful to seniors who normally have insurmountable barriers in receiving counseling. Two examples:
     --  an incapacitated senior who needed someone to talk to inquired with the agency I volunteer with; however,     this person did not have a private (confidential) space in which to hold verbal sessions and dropped his application;
     --  a senior I trained with when I became an SPC, who had over a decade of valuable Hospice experience, had a degenerative disease and had to eventually move into an assisted living situation, ending his SPC ability to hold face-to-face counseling sessions.
Both of these situations (and there are many more) could have benefited from the proposed solution in this GoFundMe request if it were available!

In addition to providing this special service to those who do need it, this solution can also be of relief for concerned family members, friends, and other care givers. Even those closest to them are not likely to be in a position to provide the non-judgmental and confidential relationship essential to counseling a distressed senior. After all, it’s hard to keep a secret! A senior who wants to talk about their most sensitive and personal issues, things that would be normally considered inappropriate, probably things a son, daughter, husband, best friend may not want to hear about. In our conversations, my middle-aged son still backs away from some subjects. Loving and concerned family members desperately want someone with experience to step in to listen non-judgmentally, in total confidence, and with understanding to support their parents and/or spouses. Don’t we all sometimes have a desire to unburden ourselves from private things we feel we ‘just can’t talk about’ to anyone?

Agencies Served: Charitable agencies, whose funding is most often proportionally related to the number of people served, can also greatly benefit from an online solution to providing client services. Being able to expand their reach and scope of service, agencies dedicated to serving seniors will have more flexibility in providing services. No longer be restricted to face-to-face, or using the less secure phone and video-conferencing, as a means of providing senior counseling in limited geographical areas, agencies will be able to reach seniors in isolated and rural areas.

Summary: Online is a proven means of providing counseling services. Donations already provided for this program include administration, website build-out, communications, on-going tech support, and computer equipment.

Your contribution will help fund:
     --  domain registrations;
     --  SSL Certificates;
     --  development of a proprietary chat widget/AI;
     --  six months of on-going expenses for:
            --  Internet and ISP charges;
            --  VPN subscriptions for Clients and volunteer senior peer counselors.
With you help, I believe this program can be self-sustaining after the first six months from donations, grants, and financial contributions from participating agencies.

Do you need this kind of service?  Do you think you may in later life?  Do you know someone who does?

Thank you in advance for your contribution. Please email me with any questions.

Bruce M. Brown, SPC
SeniorPeerCounseling.net

Donations

  • Ron & Christi RackerTays 
    • $25 
    • 4 mos
  • Megan Brown 
    • $50 
    • 4 mos
  • James Myhre 
    • $50 
    • 4 mos
  • Emily Massimi 
    • $20 
    • 4 mos
  • AARON BROWN 
    • $70 
    • 4 mos

Organizer

Bruce Brown 
Organizer
Sonoma, CA
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