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