Love Is The Answer
The LITA organization (Love Is The Answer) brings happiness, friendship,
and purpose into the lives of lonely seniors. It does this by matching
volunteers as one-to-one friends for the residents of 25 long-term care
facilities in Marin County, California. Analise was seven when she asked
to be matched with someone in a nursing home as a LITA friend. At 82,
Alice was lonely and depressed. She had lost interest in life, refusing
to get up in the morning, bathe, or dress. Then, she met Analise and
everything changed. They made a heart connection on their first visit
together. Now Alice asks to be the first up and dressed on Saturday.
She double-checks her hair appointment each week because Analise will
visit on Saturday. Alice has a bright pink sunhat that Analise gave
her for when they sit outside together. Analise and Alice are expert
trivia players and win prizes every time they play at parties! Four
years have passed and Analise and Alice are still the best of friends.
A disturbing fact in many places of our country is that up to 60% of
the elderly people residing in long-term facilities have no family,
or their families live too far away to visit. The residents feel abandoned
and unneeded. They are unable to function as in the past and their declining
health is discouraging to them. After a full, rich, and productive life,
older citizens are placed with others in their age bracket and there
is no diversity. They get little or no stimulation and are isolated
from the general population.
LITA is an example of inspired assistance. It is committed to improving
the quality of life of elders. Its programs combine young people with
seniors to share experiences and understanding which benefits both generations.
It trains adult volunteers to develop and write life histories of the
seniors, thereby instilling a sense of history that can be carried into
the future. Its volunteers include their pets in their visits, creating
a feeling of home that may not have been experienced by the residents
since they were able to care for themselves. LITA meets critical emotional,
mental, and spiritual needs of the elderly and the values gained by
the volunteers are carried into the future by the next generation. LITA
reminds the elderly that their lives do matter to someone.
started volunteering with LITA eleven years ago. Ron believes that the
secret to happiness is getting "out of yourself and giving back to others."
Ron found LITA. Ron visits every Thursday from 1 - 4pm. He visits ten
people and considers it a privilege to know each and every one. His
favorite is Willie. Willie tells Ron he had to live by the seat of his
pants most of his life. He has been a huckster, a gambler, a cook and
a laborer on the railroad. At 85, he likes to share bible stories, he
enters every program, and loves to laugh and to tap dance! It is clear
to Ron that all his friends enjoy their visits. A few days before a
friend passed away, she took Ron's hand and thanked him for "being the
only friend she had." Ron believes that the desire to live is basic
to human life - whether you are nine or ninety. LITA friendships remind
him how wonderful it is to be alive.
Lori joined LITA as a volunteer in the One-to-One Friends for the Elderly
program when her son Gavin was born. Gavin and his old brother Ethan's
grandparents live in Kansas. So, at ages two months and four years,
Gavin and Ethan joined Lori as LITA volunteers. Although Lori and the
boys were matched with Mary, a resident in her nineties, they found
they had at least 8-10 other "grandparents" just waiting their weekly
arrival. Gavin is a very happy little guy and he ends up in many laps
before each visit is done. When Ethan was young, Lori noticed that he
was frightened when they would encounter an elderly person in a wheelchair
or walker when they shopped. She wants her boys to grow up with positive
memories of older people.