Agency seeks ombudsmen for nursing home, assisted living patient advocacy

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Oct. 9, 2010 at 5:09 a.m.

The Golden Crescent Area Agency on Aging needs more volunteers to help honor and emphasize the rights of long-term residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities for Residents' Rights Week.

The agency has ombudsmen, who are volunteers who advocate for the elderly by trying to improve the lives of residents in nursing homes in the surrounding seven counties.

The need for those volunteers is great, said Barbara Zimmerman, managing local ombudsman and elder rights coordinator.

"It's really important we have someone in each nursing home," she said. "About 60 to 70 percent of residents in nursing homes have no friends or families to visit them or see that their needs are met."

Additional volunteers are needed for Gonzales, Yoakum, Shiner, Hallettsville and Victoria, she said.

The agency oversees 21 nursing homes and 17 assisted living facilities and depends on 14 volunteers to help with resident advocacy several hours a week, she said.

Most times residents are too scared or are not sure how to approach a problem, whether it be big or small, Zimmerman said.

Problems they face can be as small as changing the food they eat to setting an appointment for new glasses, she said.

"All we need is people who like other people and are caring and want to do something to help somebody," she said.



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