Contact Community Services’s TeleCare program has helped hundreds of seniors in 11 counties by connecting them over the phone to provide social support, wellness checks, and medication reminders.

For over a decade, Contact Community Services’s TeleCare program has helped hundreds of seniors in 11 counties by connecting them 
over the phone to provide social support, wellness checks, and medication reminders. According to Contact Community Services’s 
website, loneliness and social isolation negatively impact the physical and mental health of senior citizens. This lack of social connections can lead 
to higher rates of elder abuse and victimization.

The free community-based service helps improve the lives of seniors with the help of dedicated volunteers. One of those volunteers, Mary, has found meaning in her retirement by volunteering at the organization. “I am a volunteer for TeleCare and I call people on the phone.” she said about her position, “Depending on what the call is requiring, it might be a medication reminder, some people are just lonely and need someone to keep in touch with them, and help maintain their health by reminding them to take their medicine. Sometimes it’s just a wellness check to see if they’re doing okay that day. It just depends on the situation and what they need.”

Volunteers like Mary are important in providing this much-needed connection to TeleCare’s clients. The program trains all of its volunteers to
develop phone-based relationships with seniors, use active listening skills, and direct clients to more specialized services if needed. Volunteers will
typically devote a minimum of two shifts per month calling clients for a variety of reasons.

“It’s not uncommon for someone to want a call to remind them to take their medicine and that might be anywhere for as often as they need
it, once or twice a day.” Mary said when asked about the types of calls she makes.

“Sometimes a person just wants a phone call,” she said. “They feel lonely…most likely, they live alone and they just need some social
interaction. Sometimes, people just need reassurance if they’re in a difficult time, just to talk to someone and air it out. It’s confidential, so it’s a safe
place to talk about whatever is on their mind. Occasionally…you may refer them to someone else for some other type of assistance.”

The phone calls made by volunteers not only act as wellness checks and reminders for people to take their medications. Volunteers help older
citizens stay connected to their community all while looking out for clients’ physical, mental, and emotional health.

“I think [the calls] are important because the people who request these calls, there’s a need for it,” Mary said. “For they had to pay somebody to do
that, who knows what it would cost to pay somebody. But it’s a free service. And it just helps people maintain some stability, and socialization, and just
knowing that if somebody that you check on is doing okay.” Knowing that she has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life has motivated Mary to keep volunteering. When asked about the most rewarding part of her volunteer work, she had a hard time deciding what qualified as the most rewarding.

“That’s hard to say.” she laughed, “Well, for one thing, I just feel that it’s something worthwhile. I’m retired and am a widow myself so it gives
me something to do that I feel like is worthwhile, like giving back to the community. Something that I’m able to do. And just knowing that
sometimes the people really appreciate the phone calls. Many times they’ll say, ‘thanks so much for calling’ and it might not be that long of a call,
but it’s just that somebody kept in touch with them. I just think it helps, especially with people that are by themselves and they’re lonely. I think
that’s rewarding, knowing that that made a difference to that person, that you made a phone call to them.”

If you are interested in signing yourself or someone else up to receive phone calls from TeleCare or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer,
visit, call 315-218-1915, or email [email protected].

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Volunteer-Based Service Helps Elderly Stay Connected

Written by Alyssa Dearborn