By Hannah Lobb (Intern at TimeBanks USA)
WDSU News in New Orleans recently ran a story on the NOLA Timebank. In the news clip, Gretchen Zalkind, founder of NOLA Timebank, explained how timebanking is both important to the community and her personally.
Zalkind is extremely grateful for the timebank community, as it has enabled her mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, to remain living at home.
As Zalkind is not able to leave her mother at home by herself, she spends her timedollars on care for her mother. This enables her to make a quick run to the store or just take a little break. Her fellow timebank members volunteer their time to look after Zalkind’s mother, and can in return, spend their own timedollars on something that they need.
Respite care is a growing problem, as when data was last recorded in 2009, there were 36.9 million people aged 65 or older in the United States, and by 2030 this number is expected to increase to 72.1 million.
How to care for our increasingly elderly population is therefore a pressing issue and one at the forefront of many people’s minds. Whether you are approaching late-adulthood yourself, or have a parent or grandparent who is, it is not irrational to worry about what is going to happen next.
There seems to be a manual for life that ends at old age. There is a process of sequential steps to follow in life, including graduating high school, getting a degree, finding a job, getting married and having children. What happens when you reach retirement however is left unanswered.
Some people are lucky enough to be able to afford to live in a retirement home or pay for in-home respite care, but others cannot. This is where the NOLA timebank, like many others, is doing great things. Not only can timebanking help the elderly by assigning volunteers to take them to the grocery store or the medical center, the timebank can also help the people that are doing the caring.
In the example of Zalkind, she is using the timebank for herself, to gain short periods away from her mother, who needs 24 hour care. Perhaps caregivers like Zalkind could not afford to take breaks like this, if it required her to pay for a replacement caregiver. Timebanking works to help those who may not necessarily be able to afford help.
Like at NOLA Timebank, many volunteers around the country are already providing respite care, but TimeBanks USA, the organization that originally founded Timebanking, wishes to see this program grow. Edgar Cahn, CEO of TimeBanks USA is in the process of initiating a program in Washington D.C. to provide relief for respite care workers all over the city.
The program will work in partnership with the D.C Timebank and various other organizations, to train volunteers that are interested in giving an hour of their time, to provide caregivers with some much needed time off.
If this program succeeds in D.C and spreads to other parts of the country, it could not only enable more elderly people to carry on living in their own homes, but also enhance the lives of their caregivers, and significantly reduce the costs and uncertainties associated with aged care.
You can watch the news story here: http://www.wdsu.com/news/local-news/new-orleans/making-a-difference-nola-time-bank-pays-it-forward-1-hour-at-a-time/33677400?absolute=true