Imagine, you live alone, you have no close family or friends, and you feel as if you cannot remember things. You have problems making a meal and can’t remember how to get to the pharmacy to get your medications. You feel isolated and afraid, but have nowhere to turn.  

Evelyn experienced these feelings and had these struggles, but she didn’t know what to do. Evelyn is an 82-year-old single woman who lived at home alone. She suffers from memory impairment and a heart condition that limits her ability to walk long distances. Evelyn used to be able to make her own meals, grocery shop, and take her medications every day. She could pay her bills and manage her day-to-day expenses. However, this was becoming more difficult. She stopped taking her medications, wasn’t going to her doctor’s appointments and bills were not getting paid.      

One afternoon, Evelyn walked away from her home planning to go to the grocery store. She did not remember that her heart condition limited her ability to walk that far. With the physical stress and her memory impairment, Evelyn became disoriented and got lost. She was found by a passerby when she fell and couldn’t get up. Evelyn didn’t know where she was or where she lived. The police were called and Evelyn was taken to the hospital.

The hospital staff worked with Evelyn to create a plan to ensure Evelyn could live safely. Because of Evelyn’s advancing memory problems, she was found to no longer be able to make decisions or manage her day to day finances. Evelyn needed someone to help. The hospital knew that NewBridge had a Volunteer Guardian and Volunteer Representative Payee program that might be able to give Evelyn what she needed. A referral was made and after some work, a volunteer was found to become Evelyn’s guardian and another volunteer to become the representative payee.  

Lilly, a volunteer guardian through NewBridge agreed to become Evelyn’s guardian.  Richard, a volunteer representative payee through NewBridge, agreed to manage her money.

Together, the two volunteers ensured that Evelyn could live in an environment that was safe, healthy, and provide the socialization she always wanted. Her bills were being paid and Evelyn had strong advocates, who worked side-by-side with her to make sure her needs were being met.

NewBridge is a non-profit social service agency. They provide a large variety of services, programs, and support for people 60 and older living in Madison and Monona.  Their mission is to provide older adults a bridge to successful aging. One of those bridges is the Volunteer Guardian and Representative Payee Programs. These programs ensure that the most vulnerable adults in our community have someone who can make sure their needs are met, they are safe in their homes, that bills are getting paid and someone is speaking up for them if they can’t do that themselves.  

Would you like to make a difference for someone like Evelyn? Do you have a little time each month to visit, make decisions, and work with the community to help support someone like Evelyn?  

If you would like to learn more about the Volunteer Guardian and Volunteer Representative Payee programs, contact Katie Brietzman at 608-512-0000 Ext.1002. The program offers training and ongoing support in your role as a volunteer. Responsibilities could include: making health care decisions, managing social security (for volunteers who want to help manage money) and more. These programs serve people 60 and older living in Dane County.

Giving back to your community is a noble endeavor and your neighbor, the community and Evelyn need your help.