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Oceanside's Seniors Helping Seniors company grows

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Between balancing her personal life, helping with her grandchildren and caring for her elderly mother, Christine Leder said she was relieved to turn to the Oceanside-based Seniors Helping Seniors for support.

The company provides non-medical help for seniors across the western part of Nassau County by providing those in their 80s and 90s with a non-medical aide close to their age range to offer companionship and support.

“The thing that drew me was that it was seniors helping seniors,” Leder, a Rockville Centre resident, said. “It’s been a very nice experience, and I hope it continues this way.”

Leder said her mother, Joan Rohrs, has been involved in the program for nearly four years and has enjoyed it. Her aide takes her to physical therapy and doctor’s appointments, to the hairdresser, the bookstore, other appointments and out to lunch. They typically spend a half-day together a few times a week.

Stuart Berr, who has owned the company since March 2012, said he aims to hire people who have spare time and can understand and connect with the people they are helping.

“As a companion, they’re being like anyone else, like a neighbor down the street,” he said. “It really depends upon the client’s needs entirely. It’s a personalized service. You’re helping them get in the car, you’re going at their speed.”

The aides usually go to the client’s home or assisted living facility, and are also available to take them out to various places. He said the goal is for aides to become like family members. In past cases, aides have taken their companions to Broadway shows, grocery shopping, parks, beaches and many other places. They are also available to work on household chores such as taking out the garbage, doing laundry and cooking, and can also remind their companions to take their medication. The company now has about 20 employees who usually work one case at a time.

The company also introduced a new telecommunications technology, which helps aides and their companions maintain relationships that are not in-person through monitoring, providing social engagement and responding to health events at a distance by using sensors or medical management devices. Berr said there is a pendant that seniors can wear around their wrists that they can use to communicate to an aide without being in the same place as them. It can also connect them to a doctor in real-time and help avoid any unnecessary in-person visits with their aide amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s peace of mind and for their overall safety,” Berr said. “With Seniors Helping Seniors, the idea is for them to live independently and safely with dignity and respect.”

With the pandemic causing many seniors to feel reluctant to go into an assisted living facility, Berr said, the pendant option can help them remain at home and still feel safe. The virus has also caused the company to make some adjustments, as anyone with Covid-19 symptoms or who is returning from virus hot spots must quarantine and are advised not to work until a negative test is shown. Hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing have also been implemented. So far, he said, only one employee has tested positive for the virus and she chose to step away from the job for two months.

As far as matching aides and seniors, Berr said, he tries to provide a personal touch and find the right fit the first time so that no hiccups are experienced.

“You want someone that feels like part of the family and is there for years,” he said. “I find people who have time and find it rewarding.”

To learn more, visit seniorcarerockvillecentre.com, or email stuartbshs@aol.com.