The Hippo


May 26, 2020








Help for seniors

• The CareGivers, Inc. (19 Harvey Road in Bedford, 622-4948, provides a variety of services to the elderly and the disabled in their homes, including transportation, grocery service and a mobile food pantry.

• Easter Seals NH (555 Auburn St. in Manchester, 623-8863, has a number of services designed to help seniors, including an adult day program, Seniors Count, which works with frail seniors to keep them in their homes, and Caring Companions, an in-home respite care program.

• Home Health and Hospice Care (7 Executive Park Drive in Merrimack, 593 Maple St. in Manchester, and 210 Naticook Road in Merrimack, 882-2941, includes a visiting nurse association, hospice and its own community hospice house. It serves the population from birth to death. It works with seniors to help them continue to live in their homes.

• Meals on Wheels (395 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-9967, provides meals ? more than 1,000 meals daily in Hillsborough County ? to homebound seniors.

• New Hampshire Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (125 Airport Road in Concord, 415-4298, works to improve end-of-life care within the community, while also supporting the family.

• Visiting Angels (11 Northeastern Blvd. Suite 220 in Nashua, 821-0277, is part of a national network of non-medical, private duty home care agencies that provide care to the elderly in their homes. It serves the Nashua, Merrimack and Hudson areas.

• Visiting Angels (14 Hooksett Road, Auburn, 483-8999, provides non-medical senior home care in Manchester and Derry areas.

Food — and time
Seniors need access to meals and companionship


Sometimes needy seniors get lost in the flux. Families are so busy preparing for the holidays, they might not always give the attention to seniors that they need, officials say. But there are organizations out there keeping an eye on seniors and making sure their needs are met.

It hasn’t always been easy. A down economy, combined with greater need for services, has put pressure on nonprofit organizations.

“More elderly and disabled people are looking for food,” said Donny Guillemette, president and CEO of The CareGivers (, a Bedford-based nonprofit working to assist seniors and disabled folks right in their homes. “The needs have increased dramatically. Our food pantry has more than doubled in the last couple years. We’re on course to distribute 100,000 pounds of food by the end of the year.”

Across the board, donations are down for The CareGivers. The CareGivers serve about 750 clients in the greater Manchester and Nashua areas. The organization has seen the needs of its clients increase because of the economic climate, Guillemette said. One of The CareGivers’ largest programs is Caring Cupboards, which is like a mobile food pantry for home-bound seniors. That’s an area where Guillemette has seen an increase in need.

Meals on Wheels has also seen a large increase in need for its services, and it too is looking for help through this tough time. Meals on Wheels typically serves elderly residents, but it serves people with disabilities as well.

“It’s been a very difficult year for us,” said Rebecca Fregeau, development assistant with Meals on Wheels. She noted that last year the program served 59,000 meals more than the state funded. “One of the reasons we’re able to continue is because we have such a large volunteer base. Without them, we wouldn’t survive,” Fregeau said.

The Meals on Wheels ( program needs volunteers to assemble gift bags for the holidays, drivers to deliver the meals and gift bags, office help and kitchen help. Last year there were approximately 595 volunteers working with Meals on Wheels. Fregeau added that some volunteers have been working for the program for 30 years now.

Donations have come in slowly for Easter Seals New Hampshire’s ( seniors programs so far this holiday season. Melissa Murphy, who directs Easter Seals’ Seniors Count program, said there have been a couple calls from people looking for ways to help out seniors in the community.

Seniors Count, which works with frail seniors to keep them independent, is just one of Easter Seals’ senior-oriented programs. There is also an adult day program with more than 100 clients, as well as Caring Companions, which provides in-home non-medical assistance to more than 400 clients, Murphy said.
Money is always helpful, but so are time and effort. Simple things like snow shoveling can go a long way, particularly for seniors who can’t get out to shovel their own driveways and don’t have the means to hire someone, Murphy said.

“If someone is willing to snowplow for seniors who can’t afford to pay, if there’s a company out there that wants to help out one or two seniors, that would be a huge bonus,” Murphy said.

Gift cards, particularly to places like Rite Aid or CVS, are helpful, since it helps seniors with co-pays, Murphy said.

“A lot of them are on limited incomes and they have a really difficult time paying for prescriptions,” Murphy said. “They have to choose between food and medicine.”

The adult day program at Easter Seals could use craft materials, like watercolor paints, acrylic paints, paper, crossword puzzles and puzzle books. While Easter Seals receives nonperishable food to help out seniors, it could use a three- or four-cubic-foot refrigerator and freezer. Staff members do pick up food at the Food Bank, but right now they can’t refrigerate items, so protein and dairy products can be lacking. If they had the ability to refrigerate them, it could be easier to get those products out to seniors, Murphy said.

But cash is always helpful. As part of Seniors Count, Easter Seals has an emergency flex fund, which allows Easter Seals to pitch in and help a senior pay his or her electric bill because he or she fell behind ? it helps with one-time expenses for seniors in need.

At Home Health and Hospice Care (, cash is king when it comes to donations.

“In truth, the agency really needs contributions, especially this time of year,” said Tina Andrade, director of development for Home Health and Hospice Care. “Contributions really go directly for caring, for people at the worst times in their lives.”

“We have very, very loyal donors who really understand the critical nature of what we do and how it impacts the quality of life in our southern New Hampshire community,” Andrade added.

Home Health and Hospice Care consists of a large visiting nurse association and hospice, as well as its own community hospice house in Merrimack. Serving most of southern New Hampshire and a little bit of northern Massachusetts, the organization takes care of a huge population from birth until death. Of course, a large portion of the population it serves are elderly folks, particularly ones with chronic diseases, like heart disease, diabetes or chronic pulmonary diseases. The goal is to help seniors continue to live in their homes, Andrade said.

The organization, which was founded in 1883 in Nashua, also hosts a foot clinic in Merrimack, which helps take care of people’s feet and toes — particularly important for people who have diabetes. The organization runs the clinic at a minimal cost, Andrade said.

“Despite the fact that most elderly folks have Medicare and Medicaid, none of those really cover what it takes to care for people,” Andrade said. “What we depend on is a caring community. The contributions to our organization have really allowed us to continue serving the community. A lot of people are falling through the insurance cracks, more than ever before. In a year, we may have to give out close to a quarter of a million dollars in free or subsidized health care. We can only do that through contributions.”

Andrade said the organization can often respond quickly to people in need, whether the problem is a lack of food, a lack of bedding, or needing a fan in 95-degree weather.

“We’re really soldiers on the ground,” Andrade said. “Even though many organizations can respond to those needs eventually, and we always work with other community agencies, we do have restrictive funds ... that we can just access ... to help people out in that moment, and that makes all the difference in the world.”

To make contributions go as far as possible, Andrade said Home Health and Hospice keeps overhead low. It relies on more than 300 volunteers who perform a variety of tasks, some rather specialized. Volunteers will sit vigil with a hospice patient at the community hospice house ? sometimes a 24-hour-per-day job. During the spring, summer and fall, volunteers help care for the organization’s garden at the community hospice house. Volunteers take elderly people to medical appointments or they do the grocery shopping, which helps the client remain independent. They might simply spend time with an elderly person, playing chess or Scrabble or just chatting, Andrade said. Home Health and Hospice Care also has a set of bereavement groups, for spousal loss and loss of family members, that are run by trained volunteers.

The CareGivers step up their efforts to make sure seniors aren’t forgotten in the hubbub of the holidays. The organization has a giving tree for clients, and it reaches out to the community to ask people to purchase relatively small gifts, such as crossword puzzles, slippers and bathrobes. The CareGivers will be distributing about 250 different presents during the season, Guillemette said. Call 622-4948 to see what gifts are needed.

The CareGivers also need volunteers to help with the mobile food pantry ? packing food, delivering food. If someone is looking for a longer-term volunteering opportunity, the organization can match people up with a client.

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