“In this home, nobody dies alone.”
Poverty is debilitating at every age, but for the elderly it can be especially devastating. When an older man or woman is left with no remaining family or friends, he or she is left helpless, sometimes dependent on government aid. One organization determined to help this isolated population is The Little Sisters of the Poor. The Little Sisters of the Poor is a Roman Catholic congregation of nuns who, with aid from the public, serve the elderly poor in countries all over the world. Inspired by Saint Jeanne Jugan, a nineteenth century French woman who dedicated her life to helping the elderly, Little Sisters of the Poor are dedicated to providing assistance and companionship to the aged and needy of all religions.
What started in the mid-1800s in France has become an international organization present in over 30 countries. At St. Anne’s Home in San Francisco, California, over 20,000 men and women of all religions have received assistance over the last 100+ years. St. Anne’s home has a residential care center for those elderly capable of living on their own, as well as a skilled nursing area. Residents are encouraged to take part in social activities, including physical therapy, a beauty salon, and an ice cream parlor.
The Spring 2014 newsletter out of St. Anne’s highlighted how the organization is dedicated to connecting people of all ages, thereby educating young people on the plight of impoverished elderly. A trivia event was held, which a local sixth grade class attended. Teams were made of both the elderly residents and the youngsters, encouraging mental stimulation and social interaction on both sides.
The Little Sisters of the Poor believe that poverty is as much a daunting challenge for the elderly today as it was in the days of Saint Jeanne Jugan. Their willingness to help men and women of all races, religions, and creeds demonstrates the true spirit of giving.