Volunteer Program Connects Isolated Seniors in Northeast Ohio

Seniors often face isolation, and the coronavirus crisis has made it even harder for them to stay connected. While we must stay safe during this time, it’s also important to make sure that seniors feel valued, engaged, and heard.

One way to help our aging population fight against loneliness is to create a network of individuals to check in regularly.

Telecare is a program of AmeriCorps Seniors’ Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. It aims to connect volunteers age 55 and older with elderly individuals who want a friendly conversation or the reassurance of someone checking in on them.

Available across seven Ohio counties, Telecare is a great solution for seniors to stay connected with others during this time of social distancing. It is a safe way for vulnerable individuals to interact with others and fight against loneliness.

Why we need to pay attention to loneliness in seniors

Loneliness and social isolation in seniors can lead to harmful effects. More than one-third of adults age 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered socially isolated.

Loneliness puts individuals at risk for serious health conditions and dementia. It correlates with declining health in older adults, and can higher risk of heart disease, premature death from an illness, and depression and anxiety.

Generally, people are social by nature and crave interactions with others. Creating more opportunities for seniors to connect socially can help combat isolation. Health care interventions and programs that promote engagement with others are key for helping older adults age well.

What is Telecare? A phone reassurance program for seniors

The Telecare program connects volunteers with seniors who have few social connections in seven Ohio counties. The program aims to encourage elderly individuals to engage with others and know that they have a listening ear to count on.

Volunteers are members of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, the nation’s largest volunteer network for adults age 55 and older. Any homebound seniors in VANTAGE RSVP’s seven-county service area can use the Telecare program free of charge.

Those who sign up for Telecare are matched with a volunteer and receive regular phone calls. Staff members screen individuals to discover their preferences and schedule calls. Seniors may receive phone calls that foster friendly conversations or sign up for a quick check in to look out for their wellbeing.

If you know a senior who would benefit from Telecare, you can refer them online. You can also sign up to be a volunteer caller for RSVP if you are 55 years or older.

Fighting senior isolation during COVID-19

Now more than ever, staying connected is not easy. This is especially true for our senior community members.

But, there are ways to engage without putting yourself at risk. If you would like to be a part of the Telecare program, whether as a volunteer caller, a person receiving phone calls, or a referral source, please reach out to VANTAGE’s RSVP program to learn more.

We are always happy to work with individuals and organizations to ensure that no senior is left alone during these uncertain times. You can reach RSVP by contacting Lisa Mascellino at lmascellino@vantageaging.org or 330-253-4597 x166. 

*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.

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