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New Support Line For Seniors Sees Plenty Of Demand During COVID-19

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GoldenTALK volunteers load food and supplies for seniors. (Image Courtesy GoldenTALK)
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A new L.A.-based support line designed to combat social isolation among seniors has fielded more than 4,200 calls since it launched in March.

It’s called GoldenTALK — (888) 60-GOLDEN or (888) 604-6533 — and the idea behind it was to offer people 60 and older friendly conversation and referrals to services when needed.

The service was launched just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

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“Now you’ve got more stress from the seniors who were not used to self-isolating, who would run their errands, go pay their bills,” said Kimberly Lewis of the IDSGT Foundation, which launched GoldenTALK.

Lewis, who used to run a homeless women’s shelter in South L.A., said there are now about 100 volunteers involved. She said the idea for GoldenTALK came in part from what she experienced in a previous job as a switchboard operator at a police department.

“I remembered how many seniors — especially in the evening hours — were calling not because they needed assistance, but because they were simply lonely,” Lewis said.

Tracy Ben-Ami, a certified rehabilitation counselor, volunteers her time as a mental health coach for some of the seniors who call in. She's heard from a lot of people with coronavirus-related anxiety.

“They’re terrified,” Ben-Ami said. “They know they’re vulnerable and going out there could really get them sick.”

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That’s part of the reason why Lewis and the IDSGT Foundation are now facilitating grocery and toiletry deliveries. So far those have ramped up to about 50 stops a week. The foundation has started a GoFundMe page to delivery effort.

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