The "Hi Neighbor" program helps seniors feel connected during the pandemic

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Area Agency on Aging has partnered with the City of Phoenix to launch a program that allows senior citizens to check in on them over the phone so they don't feel so isolated.

"It really grew from us learning and experiencing through the pandemic that many seniors are feeling isolated and alone," said Melissa Elliott. "They're not as connected as they were either because family members can't come and visit or they themselves can't get out as much as they were before the pandemic began."

Elliott is the Vice President of Programs and Services for the Area Agency on Aging and said that the feeling of isolation can be detrimental to a senior citizen's health.

"We've sensed in the seniors that have called us through our helpline and our other programs, just a general increase in anxiety and fear and feelings of loneliness and uncertainty," Elliott said. "For some people, these staff are one of a few or maybe the only person that they are actually talking to on a regular basis so it really is making a difference in their life."

So far, 111 seniors in Phoenix have signed up for the "Hi Neighbor" program since it began on July 1. Two employees with Area Agency on Aging each have a call list they check in with once a week.

"Sometimes, they initiate it. Other times it may be initiated by someone else, like a social worker or family member. But overall people are receptive to the calls. They enjoy having someone call them, they can really build a relationship with them," Elliott said.

City of Phoenix residents age 60 and over can sign up for the free program by calling the Area Agency's 24-hour Senior Help Line at 602-264-4357.


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