Valley hotline provides free weekly check-ins for lonely seniors

Posted at 2:58 PM, Jul 22, 2020

The coronavirus has targeted parents, grandparents, and older adults. They are known as our most vulnerable population and state leaders have urged them to stay at home.

Months of isolation and lack of social interaction can take a toll on their mental health.

"I think overall, there's a higher amount of fear about going out and also just kind of feeling more isolated and not as connected to the world around them," explained Melissa Elliott.

Elliott is the Vice President of Programs and Services with the Area Agency on Aging in the Valley.

"With social distancing, we're kind of implying that we're losing that human connection," Elliott said, "Which is what we all need."

That is why Elliott prefers the phrase "physically distancing" instead because her organization is still finding ways to be social with their seniors.

"The mental health and anxiety, depression of our seniors gets overlooked because they have so much physically going on," Elliott said."

And sometimes we forget that their mental health is equally as important to their physical health and loneliness and isolation can lead to more severe clinical symptoms, which we really need to monitor."

To stay in the loop, while keeping everyone safe, they have started the "Hi Neighbor"program in Phoenix and a telephone reassurance program that works in all of Maricopa County.

"And it really just as a friendly check-in call," Elliot described. "'How are you doing? Is there anything that you need? How has the week gone?'"

But beyond a weekly phone call, the agency turns the conversation to what resources they can provide. They can find ways to get seniors groceries and help facilitate a trip to the doctor's office.

"This day and age, social media and texting and everything, I mean, that has so many benefits but we can never underestimate just how good it is to just call someone on the phone," Elliott said.

"And I think that's one thing, through this, that we can kind of take away. Even as family members or neighbors or whoever is, that sometimes a phone call to the person next-door or the person that we're connected to really does make all the difference."

If you or someone you know could benefit from this, you can call 602-264-4357 or visit their website.

If you would like to volunteer to become a lifeline to seniors in the community, you can learn more here.