After retiring in 2020, life felt like an extended vacation for Eileen Kent, 76, of Cooper City. But after about two years, it wasn’t much fun anymore.
“I guess I was feeling sorry for myself,” Eileen said. “When you spend a lot of time alone, it’s ‘Oh, this ailment and that ailment.’ Too much about me.”
Eileen decided that needed to change.
Connection through tech help
One of her biggest stressors was figuring out how to navigate her smartphone. A friend told her about Heart2Heart. The staff connected her to a young college-aged volunteer named Jazzy Amerson.
Eileen and Jazzy meet up at Starbucks, and Jazzy helps Eileen learn how to program and use her phone so it won’t be such a source of stress.
Slowly but surely, Eileen is learning. Although Eileen’s son and grandchildren said they would help do everything she needs to do on her phone, Eileen wanted learn to do it herself.
“If someone does everything for you, you don’t learn,” Eileen said. “I want to learn technology so I can feel not so intimidated.”
Now, she’s inspired to teach other seniors to use their electronic devices.
“I want to show them that if I can do it, you can do it, too,” she said.
These days, Eileen is feeling better because she has learned to stay active. She decided to pick up gardening and is busy planning her new garden.
But she also was so inspired by Jazzy and Heart2Heart that she decided to become a volunteer herself.
Her first volunteer job was with a sweet man named Ronald who is in his 90s. He was lonely and wanted someone to have a cup of coffee with him and chat.
The first time Eileen met him was the week of Thanksgiving, when his daughter was also in town. They talked and had a lovely time.
About a week later, she called to check on him, and he asked if she’d like to come over for coffee or lunch. Eileen brought some leftover turkey soup and dessert. Ronald provided the coffee, and they had a wonderful time talking.
Eileen said volunteering has changed her perspective.
“All of a sudden, I’m feeling useful. I think that’s what’s been lacking in my life,” Eileen said. “I just felt, what am I here for? What am I supposed to be doing every day? I’ve never been into multitasking and doing too many things before, but now I think that it’s important to stay busy.”
Eileen used to work as a mental health technician, helping people who had drug and alcohol problems. Even though it was a stressful job, she came home each day feeling useful and that she had made a difference to someone.
Eileen lives with her son, Joshua, and his three children, Shalev, 16; Zoe, 15; and Sergev, 13. When she entered retirement, she thought she would feel useful and fulfilled by cooking meals for her family and helping around the house.
When that turned out not to be enough for her, she began to slip into depression.
Conquering her fears
Eileen is scheduled to visit another senior at a care center named Nina. The center has Heart2Heart iPads for the residents to use, and Eileen is conquering her technological fears by helping Nina make a video call to a loved one using the iPad.
“I’ve never used a tablet, but they’ll show me what to do and then I just go into the client’s room and put the phone number into it,” Eileen said. “I’ve used a cellphone before, so I can do it, and I’ll help Nina talk to her family members.”
To make a difference – or if you need a change, like Eileen – volunteer with Heart2Heart today!