This Phone Line Is Improving The Health And Happiness Of Hundreds Of Seniors

"Our volunteers are mostly seniors themselves – some who once made calls are now receiving calls!"

Recent studies show that loneliness and isolation are leading contributors to decline, both mentally and physically, in seniors. As one study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco found, thoes age 60 and older who reported feeling lonely saw a 45 percent increase in their risk of death, while isolated respondents had a 59 percent greater risk of mental and physical decline than their more social counterparts. However, one senior care facility in Sacramento offers a program which provides critical socialization services, enabling seniors to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

Eskaton, which means "the dawning of a new day," leads the way in eldercare, as the community-based non-profit exists solely to enhance the quality of life of seniors through innovative health, housing, and social services. More specifically, its Telephone Reassurance Program provides daily socialization and well check calls to seniors living in their own homes.

"We call anywhere from 2-7 days a week 365 days a year from the hours of 8 and 5. We also make thousands of home visits to many of the seniors in the program," Kim Rhinehelder, CFRE, Eskaton's vice president of Communications, Outreach & Philanthropy, told A Plus. "Because we are in close touch with the people we serve, we are able to help out when community resources are needed by providing referrals to other organizations, such as Meals on Wheels, Sacramento Food Bank, ride programs, Adult Protective Services, and others."

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According to Rhinehelder, Eskaton has been providing calls to seniors for more than 22 years, as the facility "inherited" the program from a local church in 1996.

"Recognizing a need in the senior population of their congregation, they initiated a volunteer program to keep in touch with isolated seniors," she explained. "When it grew too large for the church to handle, they reached out to Eskaton. It was an easy choice for Eskaton to make, as our mission is to enhance the quality of life of seniors." 

Eskaton has continued to grow the program ever since, and it currently serves between 500 and 600 seniors monthly. Last year, volunteers made more than 70,000 phone calls and 2,500 home visits to elders in the program, which amounts to more than 1.6 million calls since Eskaton's takeover. While Eskaton employs staff to make calls over the holidays and on weekends, volunteers run the show most of the time.

"Our volunteers are mostly seniors themselves – some who once made calls are now receiving calls!" Rhinehelder said. 

"We hear on a daily basis just how grateful our participants are for the program and for the volunteers who care about them," Rhinehelder added. "Our volunteers would tell you they get as much as they give!

Rhinehelder also noted that many communities and organizations are recognizing the need for this type of service and the benefits bestowed upon seniors and volunteers alike

"Because Eskaton believes in the benefits and value of this program, we published a Telephone Reassurance Guidebook to help other organizations and communities set up programs of their own," she explained. "The book is a tool kit of sorts, with "how to get started information" and all the forms and training materials that we utilize in our program. It is designed to pick and choose what you might need to start a program of your own."

Ultimately, as Rhinehelder said, Eskaton's efforts will always link back to the brand's overall message – Age Is Beautiful.

"We appreciate and revere those who are fortunate to live long lives," she said. "Seniors are important and we are committed to serving them."

Cover image via thodonal88 / Shutterstock

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