January 20th, 2021

Program helps seniors Keep in Touch during COVID-19

By Woodard, Dale on August 21, 2020.

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

A program is in place to help senior citizens deal with the potential feelings of isolation that come with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keep In Touch – hosted by Volunteer Lethbridge – is a new program intended to reduce isolation, loneliness and disconnectedness amongst seniors and vulnerable community members in Lethbridge.

The program connects individuals for social interaction with regular, friendly conversations through a weekly telephone support system with the connections aiming to build relationships that ease loneliness and provide additional support during stressful times due to a pandemic which has hit older adults particularly hard.

As a psychology student with senior parents, Chelsey Chaisson knew volunteering for the Keep In Touch program would be an ideal fit.

“I saw an advertisement that the City of Lethbridge was looking for volunteers during COVID for people who may not have families or feel really isolated and alone,” said Chaisson. “So I thought I might as well. I’m in psychology and almost done my degree, so I might as well sign up and see if I can help. My parents are seniors, so I understand how lonely they feel during COVID.

“I was paired with a senior lady and we’ve had a few conversations now.”

Interested volunteers can visit http://www.volunteerlethbridge.com and click on the “COVID-19 in Lethbridge: Get Involved Today” banner to access the Keep In Touch volunteer caller signup sheet.

“You have to submit a background check,” said Chaisson. “They get all your information and you go from there. Somebody from Helping Hands will be in touch with you and walk you through the process.”

Volunteers in the Keep In Touch program provide a consistent weekly time of day to call and are paired up with a community member of the same availability.

“I know with seniors a lot of the time they can be quite proud and even though they’re struggling they don’t want to reach out for help because they’re proud,” said Chaisson. “What they need to understand is this is not a service that provides pity or that we’re not here to make them feel bad or to judge them. We’re kind of like a friend.

“I’ve talked to my lady a few times and she’s wonderful. I quite like her, she’s a funny lady and she’s had one heck of a life. It’s pretty interesting to hear about her life. Her and I have clicked. We’re just somebody they can talk to and if they need resources we can try and find resources that’ll help them with any aspect of their life they need help in.”

Those who would like to sign up to receive calls or would like to refer a senior can also call Volunteer Lethbridge at (403) 332-4320 or email at helpinghands@volunteerlethbridge.com.

National Grandparents Day is Sept. 13 and honours and recognizes the contributions of grandparents.

October 1 is National Seniors Day, which coincides with the United Nations International Day of Older Persons and is an occasion for Canadians to celebrate the contributions of seniors in homes, communities and workplaces.

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