Local Senior Citizens Contacted Regularly For Well-being Checks

DRESDEN (April 20) — Area seniors are regularly contacted to make certain they are all right, through the Telephone Reassurance Program operated by the staff at the Weakley County Office on Aging. Additionally, local volunteers are participating in a new state-sponsored program called Care Through Conversation, which involves checking on the wellbeing of local senior citizens and providing friendly conversation.
According to Weakley County Office on Aging Director Gail Rodgers, staff members participate in the Telephone Reassurance Program, which involves contacting approximately 100 area seniors two or three times each week to make sure they’re all right. These seniors also have Rodgers’ cell phone number and the Center’s number they can call if they need anything.
Rodgers states, in addition to providing conversation, seniors have the opportunity to participate in exercise classes taught Wednesdays and Fridays on Dresden Senior Citizen Center’s Facebook page.
On Monday, the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability announced a new no-cost support program to help the state’s older adults who are facing social isolation and food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Care Through Conversation program helps ensure the needs of older adults are met through a regularly scheduled telephone call, during which time a volunteer will conduct a needs assessment coupled with warm conversation to guarantee the participant is safe both mentally and physically. At minimum, volunteers will conduct one call a week. Additional calls can be requested.
“Once we get their information and they tell us how often they want us to call them, we’ll put them in rotation and start reaching out to see what resources they need and make sure they’re okay,” said Communications Director Ryan J. Ellis.
He stated the volunteers in Weakley County are assigned those seniors closest to their location because that caller might know of additional resources locally.
“I applaud the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability for developing a creative and thoughtful program that will help ensure the needs of some of our most vulnerable will continue to be met amid the ongoing public health crisis,” said Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee. “Having personally volunteered for the program, I can attest firsthand how much a simple phone call helps brighten the day of those isolated from everyday life.”
“In our experience, a regular check-in from a volunteer can help make sure that older adults have all they need at home – food in the refrigerator and pantry, prescriptions in the medicine chest and kind words from a friend on the telephone,” said Jim Shulman, executive director of TCAD.
Volunteers will go through a background check and be provided training materials with conversational questions and instructions on how to handle common situations.
To register someone who could benefit from a Care Through Conversation or to volunteer, call 615-253-4307, or email: https://www.tn.gov/aging/our-programs/care-through-conversation.html to complete an online form.

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