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Program Finds A Way To Connect Seniors Without Needing The Internet

Living alone can be isolating, especially for seniors. Sometimes they can't really go out on their own due to health reasons and they can wind up feeling depressed and lonely.

That is why one company created a program that allows seniors to connect with others from the comfort of their own homes - and don't worry, it doesn't involve the internet!

Seniors across Canada are getting to experience socialization without needed to leave their homes or connect to a computer. Alice Laverty is one of those seniors. She is legally blind so she can't leave her home alone but almost every day she calls in to take part in this program.

"Sometimes when you have a blue day, you feel like you are lonely and need somebody that makes you feel a bit better," Laverty says.

The phone service operates like a big conference call and is currently available in Winnipeg, Ottawa, Edmonton and P.E.I. Some of the calls are just for chatting while others are being used to host trivia games or to share short stories.

The calls hope to provide brain stimulation that has been proven to help with cognitive decline. The co-ordinator for the program Rachel Sutcliffe says that this program brings to socialization to those who can't get out.

She says, "They love hearing each other's voices on the phone. It's their family, it is their friends - for a lot of them it is a lifeline. These are the only people that they will talk to that day or even that week."

Jean Feliksiak, an 86-year-old woman, used the calls to help cope with the death of her husband and build new friendships. she says that "we don't see each other's faces but we recognize each other's voice."

These calls can actually help with health issues as well. They often schedule speakers to talk to the seniors and it has proven successful. Last spring a speaker from the Ottawa Heart Institute spoke about heart health and one of the callers noticed that her heart didn't sound the same as a healthy heart and was able to make an appointment. Two weeks later she was fitted with a pacemaker. Without the call she wouldn't have known until it was too late!

The program has inspired participants and rekindled their spark for life. They are taking up their old hobbies and now, according to Sutclife, "they have something to get up for in the morning. They have purpose again."

Do you think these senior hotlines should be made available in more cities? Would you use one?

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