ElderFriends is a special volunteer program that provides companionship, outreach and advocacy through intergenerational relationships. Founded by Kiersten Ware in Seattle in 1996, the Department of Gerontology has replicated this proven model in Richmond in an effort to relieve isolation and loneliness among low income, "shut in" elders.

There is a growing need for the services that ElderFriends provides. The proportion of individuals in our community who are living into old age is rising dramatically. Social isolation is a serious problem for many elders, frequently leading to depression and a variety of associated health problems. ElderFriends is a compassionate response to help aging adults remain independent, in their homes and communities by addressing their isolation and loneliness.

ElderFriends is endorsed fully by VCU, Department of Gerontology, which has seen the benefits of a program like this in promoting the well-being of the elderly.

The mission of ElderFriends is to help elders remain independent for as long as possible and to reduce isolation and loneliness among low-income, shut-in elders by pairing them with volunteers who provide companionship, outreach and advocacy. The inter-generational relationships are key to relieving the isolation and loneliness among elders in our community who live alone.

Through this program, we offer volunteers of all ages the opportunity to support the elderly who live in our community through friendships and inter-generational celebration of life. For the elderly who live alone, we offer the chance to develop rewarding relationships and enjoy increased social interaction. We are engaging the services, activities and programming which have been proven in a number of different settings to promote health, independence and self-advocacy for isolated low-income elders in our community.

For more information, please visit the ElderFriends Homepage