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January 14, 2009 > Elder Coalition: Senior Peer Counseling in the Tri-Cities

Elder Coalition: Senior Peer Counseling in the Tri-Cities

"Some days, I felt like I was losing my eyesight, losing my friends and family, and losing my mind," an 86-year-old senior living in Fremont reported that she was worried and sad much of the time before she began receiving emotional support from the Tri-City Senior Peer Counseling Program. She called the Senior Help Line for help and received information about the program and within two weeks had a senior counselor who met with her weekly at her apartment. The client has met with her senior counselor for six months and has shared many stories of her life, her family, and her hopes and fears for her life now. She has cried a little and laughed a little and says she felt "a great sense of relief in getting things off her chest with a person she trusts." Today she reports that she "feels much better having someone to talk to who really listens and helps her keep it all in perspective."

The Tri-City Senior Peer Counseling Program has a 17-year history of helping seniors who are going through "a rough patch." The program helps seniors who are 55 years of age or older and live in Fremont, Newark or Union City. Seniors receive emotional support for stress, loneliness, anxiety, depression, loss and grief. With the economic situation, the program has found that more seniors are also calling for help with increased anxiety related to economic fears coupled with stress.

The counselors are warm, caring, empathetic seniors who have also experienced some difficulties in their lives and want to be there for another senior who is in need. They receive 54 hours of training by a licensed counselor and learn how to listen well and support senior clients. The counselors often report that they learn a great deal in the training and truly enjoy being able to give back to their community.

Seniors and their families can contact the Tri-City program through the City of Fremont Senior Help Line (510) 574-2041. The service is confidential and a donation only service. No one is turned away for lack of funds. The program coordinator meets with clients in their homes to explain the services and ask clients about their lives and concerns. She then matches the senior with a senior peer counselor who meets with the clients weekly. The program has counselors from many backgrounds and can often make a match with ethnic backgrounds and primary language. The counseling is offered in nine different languages.

As a Peer Counselor told us "We all have times in our lives when the walls can start to close in and it is hard to find a window or door. Senior Peer Counselors help seniors find the emotional doors and windows."

The Senior Peer Counseling Program is currently interviewing for seniors who would like to participate in the next training to become counselors. Please contact Lis Cox LMFT at (510) 574-2064 or lcox@ci.fremont.ca.us.

If you or a friend or family member are interested in finding out more about receiving the counseling please give us a call at the City of Fremont's Human Services Senior Help Line (510) 574-2041.

This program is part of the City of Fremont's Human Services Department and partners with Pathways for Positive Aging and the Tri-City Elder Coalition to serve older adults in Fremont, Newark, and Union City.

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