Muriel Derr received a Utah Senior Corps Service Award in February. Muriel serves as a Senior Companion volunteer with Weber Human Services. As a Senior Companion she helps seniors live independently in their own homes. In her role, she has built relationships on trust, kindness, and concern with many individuals in the community. She has served for the past ten years with the Senior Companion program, which requires a significant weekly commitment. Muriel is in her mid-seventies, and continues to be a true asset to the community.
For almost nine years she has been the Senior Companion to a senior with multiple sclerosis and dementia. She has found ways to keep this individual engaged with her life while being thoughtful of how she can support her. Muriel noticed that this particular senior looked sad when passing the mirror, and thoughtfully determined that she may regret how her own appearance had changed. Muriel decided to help this senior with her hair and makeup, and now sees that she smiles at herself when passing the mirror. This kind of awareness of needs and coming up with solutions to help seniors age with dignity make Muriel a wonderful Senior Companion volunteer.
She considers innovative ways of helping all of the older adults she serves who have difficulty with daily living. When Muriel attends the monthly Senior Companion training held by Weber Human Services, she then incorporates recommended best practices into her service. She prepares supplies for different activities for each community member that she visits that will suit their needs and abilities. For some individuals this may mean taking watercolor paints or adult coloring books. Many times she will do things like taking a small ball to work on coordination. She has even taken a senior she visits to a poetry class that they enjoyed together.
When Muriel experienced a power outage in her own apartment, she went with one of the individuals she serves to a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) class. In this class they learned many different skills and the senior she brought with her said it made her feel “more useful and part of the community.” Muriel was even invited to take the CERT trainer class after the initial course ended.
Muriel feels that through her Senior Companion service she is making a difference in her community. It was an honor for the Weber Human Services Senior Companion Program to present a Utah Senior Corps Service Award to Muriel Derr.
*Senior Corps helps meet the needs and challenges of America’s communities using resources provided by grants and the energy and efforts of citizens age 55 and over. Senior Corps is a national service program funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which also funds AmeriCorps. Senior Companions provide assistance and friendship to older adults who have difficulty with daily living tasks, such as shopping or paying bills. They help these adults remain independent in their homes instead of having to move to more costly institutional care. Senior Companions also offset the responsibilities that typically fall on family members or professional caregivers.