Lucille Gilmore is a Senior Companion in the National Senior Service Corps. During her 11 years of service, she has shored up the faltering independence and dignity of more than a dozen frail elders. Her persistent visits and helpfulness makes it possible for these individuals to remain living in their own homes. What this means to the psychological and physical well being of even one person is immeasurable. However, what this means in terms of savings to the individual and community can be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars when estimating assisted living care at $30,000 per year and long term care at $120,000 per year.
Over the years Lucille has touched many lives, but special mention must be made of two who counted on Lucille for assistance and companionship for the past 10 and 11 years, respectively. With Lucille’s help, both women lived in their own homes until their deaths in December.
In a letter written last August, one woman describes what Lucille has meant to her. She writes, “I find my Senior Companion very, very important to me. I live in my own home and if it wasn’t for Lucille, I couldn’t remain here. My health is not good. I am on oxygen 24 hours a day. I could not go to my doctor appointments nor do my grocery shopping if I didn’t have help. Lucille makes my doctor appointments. She prepares my portable oxygen tank and helps me to her car. She goes with me into the doctor’s office and listens to his instructions. If I forgot some of them, she remembers. I am diabetic and have glaucoma. It is difficult for me to see to read or write. Lucille keeps an account of my monthly bills and writes the checks so they are never delinquent. We have become great friends through the years and have shared many of our life experiences. It is comforting to have someone come to visit me on a consistent basis.”
Lucille has set aside her own illness to be available to others. She is dedicated and compassionate, hopeful and energetic. She says that it is those she serves that make her life richer, stronger, and happier. One by one, Lucille reaches out to frail elders in compassion and companionship and care.