Hospital Elder Life Program

About HELP

The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) at Michigan Medicine aims to assist elderly patients in remaining as independent as possible during their hospital stay. HELP volunteers work with patients to promote and monitor patient orientation, cognitive stimulation, relaxation/sleep, mobility, feeding/eating, and hearing or vision needs where functional deficits require assistance.

Program Goals

Through HELP, the hospital becomes a place where older patients can feel as secure as possible as they participate in treatment and maintain control over their own recuperation.

The program goals are:

  • To keep patients fully oriented throughout hospital stay
  • To prevent confusion and delirium as possible
  • To address patients’ needs or concerns
  • To improve communication and patient satisfaction

Program Interventions

To meet program goals, we provide the following services:

  • Daily Visitor Program – Daily visits designed to maintain alertness and orientation through socialization and companionship
  • Therapeutic Activities Program – Provides stimulating and enjoyable activities and materials
  • Early Mobilization Program – Provides daily assistance with walking and exercise
  • Feeding & Meal Assistance Program – Companionship and assistance at meal time if necessary
  • Relaxation Program – Designed to assist our patients with relaxation and sleep without the use of medication: including massage, relaxation tapes, bedside musician, or other relaxation resources

The Team

The program is a service provided free of charge to those who are eligible. Geriatricians, an Elder Life Program social work coordinator, and specially trained volunteers work together to protect older patients from experiencing the potential loss of independence that may occur as an outcome of a hospital stay. Our staff works as a team to address the individual needs of each patient.


Our program is funded by generous donations. Donations can be made here.

Volunteer Opportunities

Our patients take comfort in the assistance and friendship they receive from volunteers. The HELP program provides opportunity to gain experiences with older adults. This includes direct contact with patients, family members, other volunteers, social work, and hospital staff on nursing units. Students or community adults gain experience assessing a patient’s medical condition, cognitive status and physical functioning. They will learn to develop and coordinate a care plan and provide related interventions. If you are interested in joining our team, contact Amanda Schoettinger (Social Work Program Manager) at [email protected].