Although some of the items on this post are quite expensive, I own similar pieces that were not nearly as pricey as the pieces you see here.The two organizations I volunteer for are court sanctioned guardianship services for incapacitated adults. One of the agencies is hospital based and serves adults over the age of 55. The other is housed within an agency that serves adults over the age of 18 with disabilities. Both agencies provide their services for free to all of the county they are based in.
I became involved during a school internship and stayed on once the internship was completed. The organizations make medical and end of life decisions for those individuals who cannot do so for themselves. We give consent for treatments and for nursing home placement if necessary. We visit the ward and make sure their needs are being met. Most wards are in the nursing home placement and we develop a relationship with the facility staff and make sure the person is well cared for. We attempt to find suitable family members who can take over the guardianship if possible; in many cases it's just not feasible. For an individual to qualify for this service, they must have no other suitable person who can provide guardianship and must be legally declared incapacitated by a judge after a physician diagnoses incapacitation.
Volunteering in this capacity has tested me and taught me in ways that I could have never imagined. Some of our 'wards' have life circumstance that are beyond imagination. Some of them have experienced the most dire life circumstances or made very poor life choices. In every case the volunteer must remain compassionate, professional and consider our decisions carefully; we must set aside our own values at times, and remember that we are not deciding for ourselves, but for another person. Our decisions have far reaching effects; there are considerations that I could never have imagined. We address issues that many do not want to address; we give dignity to all whom we serve, including some who may have have experienced very little dignity in life.
We all know by now that the elder population is booming. It will continue to grow. Services for the aging are severely limited in proportion to the needs of our nation's elder population. This problem is only going to become more of a problem as medicine advances and people live longer lives. I'll spare you the soapbox lecture, but I could really go on and on about this. I am proud to volunteer for both organizations that provide services for a population that is most often invisible.
I volunteer for VAS; Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and for NIAGS; Northwest Indiana Adult Guardianship Services