We’ve all probably felt lonely from time to time because loneliness is truly a non-discriminant emotion, meaning that it affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds equally.
However, countless studies have shown that feelings of loneliness and solitude are far more prevalent among senior citizens and the elderly community than with any other group of individuals.
And while dealing with feelings of loneliness can be troublesome for people of all ages, it is particularly concerning for those in the 50+ age range. There is overwhelming data and research identifying just how detrimental loneliness and lack of social interaction can be to the physical and mental health of older individuals.
Issues like higher rates of long-term and chronic illnesses, cognitive decline and greater risk for dementia, depression, and declining physical abilities are just a few of the serious ways that loneliness can negatively impact the lives of senior citizens.
But when you don’t have a ton of opportunities to get out on your own and socialize with others, it can be extremely difficult to avoid feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
Luckily, Eskaton, a nonprofit organization serving seniors for 50 years, has come up with the perfect solution.
For over two decades, Eskaton’s Telephone Reassurance Program has been reaching out to elderly individuals who are housebound with a daily phone call.
Volunteers with the organization dial-up participants in the program every single day to check on their health, provide friendly conversation, and offer phone call recipients an opportunity to socialize without having to leave the comfort of their home.
Having made over 1.6 million phone calls to date, the program is not only effectively helping to lower feelings of loneliness among older individuals, but also helping to lower the countless increased health risks that are a byproduct of feeling lonely.
Linda Whiteside, the Telephone Reassurance program manager, says, “Social connections formed between volunteers and the Telephone Reassurance participants go a long way to reduce health risks and bring peace of mind to seniors and their family members.”
For some participants of the program, that daily phone call from the Telephone Reassurance Program is the only real human interaction that they might have on any given day, making it a real “lifesaver” according to many of the program’s participants.
“I am so grateful that someone is calling me every day and checking on me. It lifts my spirits to know someone cares,” says, Ben, a grateful participant in the program.
While the program currently only services the Sacramento, California region, based on the positive feedback and results, one can only hope that this simple yet effective idea will spread to other areas throughout the country soon.
If you happen to know of a local-Sacramento senior that might benefit from the Telephone Reassurance Program, call 916-334-1072 or 866-ESKATON. You can also use these numbers to find out more information on becoming a volunteer for the program.
Do you know any seniors or older individuals who may be experiencing feelings of loneliness or social isolation? How do you stay socially active and fight feelings of being lonely? Share your thoughts and join the conversation below!