Now that my life is a bit steadier, I want to get back into some community service again. Nothing as huge as what I used to be involved in. Just a few hours a week. I'm looking to volunteer with seniors mainly.
I have a fairly selfish agenda and I'm working on coming to terms with it.
My parents are not going to stay young forever. I'm not going to stay young forever. I want to scout out elderly care facilities and see what's available, where they are in the city, what costs are involved, what activities they schedule, what kind of care they provide, what kind of meals they provide, qualifications of the staff, the types of people in the homes and just how it all works in general.
Sometimes I feel horrible about having my own agenda. But other times I think they shouldn't care why I was there as long as they had the extra help and I fulfill my time commitments as agreed.
I know it's completely unheard of for Chinese to put their parents in an elderly care facility, even part time, during the day. But when I'm faced with the question of whether or not I can take care of my parents in their old age, I'm forced to admit that I can't.
My parents are also not the dead-set traditional type. They do understand the world and the society they have chosen to bring me up in because they've lived it. They've raised two children and (sort of) been through the elderly care stuff with my Aunt Dorothy. I doubt they'd expect me to quit my job to take care of them 24x7, especially since I have the breadwinner salary.
I feel like the best I can do is know the lay of the land so to speak, be able to quickly find the best support and services when they need it, and know how far my money will get me. And if it turns out that these homes are no place for seniors, then I need to find that out soon too.
I'm looking through volunteer postings all over. I've bookmarked a few, written to a few for more info... we'll see how it goes.
[Update - Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 1230h]
I found one close to work, which is nearly perfect!!
This place wanted volunteers for all kinds of things: chaperones for bus outings, neighbourhood walks and they needed lots of people for Christmas things too, but those were all during the day and I have to work.
The one job I thought I could do was the Music Therapy Assistant. It's for six months minimum. I wrote to the contact person. I also called the listed number and it said that she's not in today. I'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear back, but I was thinking of taking a walk down there to see where it is and what the place looks like.
But this tells me that they have organized activities and they actually do stuff with the seniors. The fact that they care enough to post for volunteers also gives me confidence that they aren't just a holding pen. They also have a professionally designed website. Sure, it's a publicity thing and publicity things are always positive, but the fact that they spent the resources to get a nice site designed and organize the content into pages/sections tells you something.
The one thing that's impressive on the website is that they post the PDF file of their menus. It's on a five week rotation. It looks well thought out and looks like it's done in consultation with a dietitian. There are Chinese dishes on it too. Hell, I think I'd do well to follow their menu... =)
[Update - Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 1245h]
I'm back =} It's a five minute walk from my office. It's a secure complex so I couldn't go in and talk to anyone. I pass by that place all the time and never realized what it was. I thought it was another residential building. It has a large gated courtyard. Outside of the gates is a public park-like area. And as I walked by, I could see into the large dining hall.
[Update - Friday, December 12, 2003 - 1520h]
The Volunteer Coordinator Lady e-mailed me back on Thursday saying she had just filled the Music Therapy Assistant position, but she'd talk to the program folks and let me know if they could use another assistant. I called her today just to follow up. She said that because of the Christmas holidays, their schedule was a bit wonky right now, but they are starting up two Music Therapy sessions a week in January. So, I should call back in January to find out what's happening.