Henderson, Nevada – Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospital serves seniors in the Las Vegas valley by providing peer counseling. This program provides confidential, personal, and supportive one-on-one counseling to people older than 50 who are facing the challenges and concerns of aging, including loss and bereavement, retirement, health issues, relationships, housing, and loneliness.
Discussing concerns with a trained and caring peer counselor can make a difference for seniors. This objective counseling offers an outlet for seniors to work through feelings, recognize strengths, consider alternatives, learn new coping skills, and redirect their lives toward greater meaning and purpose.
This program has been in operation for more than eight years. Senior volunteers complete an intensive nine-week training before providing peer counseling to others. Sister Judith A. Nelson, OP, a clinical psychologist, has assisted with training and supervising these volunteers since the beginning of the program. Sister Vicki Dalesandro, OP, recently began working with this program.
The senior peer counseling program enfleshes the recent Adrian Dominican Enactments by “engag[ing] with others in … presence in order to witness to the mystery of God in our midst.” Peer counselors listen and provide feedback to those who are often lonely, depressed, or anxious. Many clients have moved to Nevada from other parts of the country and have no friends or local relatives. Others have recently lost a spouse after relocating to Henderson or Las Vegas. They gain skills and knowledge through peer counseling.
Many leave the program with a new outlook on life. In this way, the program helps to create “resilient communities with people who are relegated to the margins, valuing their faith, wisdom and integrity.”
Feature photo: Among those involved in the senior peer counseling program at St. Rose Dominican Hospital are: front row, from left: Sister Vicki Dalesandro, OP (supervisor), Mary Ann Perry, and Lee Davis; and back row, from left: Debra Arment, Laurie Moss, MSG, LASW (supervisor), Sister Judith Nelson, OP, PsyD (supervisor), and Donna Buttaccio.