Through Community Caregivers, students help elderly age in place

GUILDERLAND — Community Caregivers is working with medical students and social-work students at area colleges and universities to help seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The students receive academic “service learning” credit for their efforts.

Students from Albany Medical College and social-work students from Siena College and the University at Albany School of Social Welfare have been working with isolated seniors, providing assurance phone calls and arranging for groceries, prescriptions, and other services to be delivered at home.

They also have been helping seniors without a computer or smartphone to try to schedule appointments for vaccinations against COVID-19.

Michael Beauchamp, a second-year student at Albany Medical College and current member of the board of directors for Community Caregivers, interned at the organization last summer where he primarily worked on a social-determinants of health screening and intervention project in the Capital Region.

He has since volunteered to lead the Community Caregivers service learning program at AMC, recruiting a dozen other medical students to make assurance calls, write health and wellness articles, facilitate lunchtime telephone chats with members of the community, and volunteer their time in whatever ways are needed.

The assurance calls have become an important part of Community Caregivers’ service model to combat social isolation and loneliness since the pandemic began.

“We spend so much of our day memorizing every detail about different diseases, microorganisms, and medications, that those details can easily become detached from the person with the disease or illness who is taking that medication,” said Beauchamp in a release from Community Caregivers. “Assurance calls force students and volunteers making the calls to relearn how to socialize at a time when everybody could use a little more social interaction.

“Older individuals may be one of the most affected groups by social isolation and loneliness during the pandemic, but they are surely not the only ones. I know that students have recognized that they too benefit when they take time out of their day to check-in and try to put a smile on another person’s face.”

Through a network of staff and volunteers, clients receive reassurance calls; friendly visits; and help with transportation, shopping, and light chores. Caregivers are also provided support through education and respite visits.

Community Caregivers is always seeking new volunteers and clients. For more information, visit or call 518-456-2898.

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