The ‘Friendship Line’ Connects Lonely Seniors With a Friendly Voice
Every person I’ve talked to who has had to stay home for any length of time has told me how miserable it has been, that they’ve felt alone and trapped. Now, imagine being a senior and literally being trapped.
No trips to the grocery store to look at the faces of fellow humans. No walks through the park. No sitting on a friend’s porch to catch up. You and I take for granted that we are able to do those things when so many truly can’t. And for those who have been trapped inside their home or nursing home for months on end, I can only imagine how alone they must feel.
Our nursing homes staff and in-home caregivers are doing the best they can to keep the minds of our seniors occupied, but there are times when loneliness creeps in. Some people don’t have anyone to pick up the phone and talk to when they’re feeling low and that has to just feel awful.
I think of my grandma who just suffered the heart wrenching loss of her husband of over 60 years and how alone she must feel, especially at night, now that her love isn’t lying beside her. My siblings and I take turn calling our grandma each day to catch up and check in on her, but deep loneliness often comes at night. And often times people don’t want to be a burden to their friends and family when the sadness creeps in with the dark and so they hold their sadness inside.
But what if there were a place for people to turn any hour of the day or night when they need to talk? Not necessarily a therapy type of chat, but a friendly chat with someone else who is also awake and needs a friendly voice?
In 1973, Patrick Arbore, Director and Founder of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention & Grief Related Services created the Friendship Line, a free service which continues today. While the Friendship Line was originally created in response to the high number of elderly suicides in the San Francisco area, it is now so much more than that. The Friendship Line still operates as a crisis line for those needing help in crisis, but it also acts as a number people aged 60 and older can call when they just need to connect with another human, to talk, to feel loved, to swap stories. To not be alone.
If there is a senior in your life who you suspect is dealing with deep feelings of being alone, maybe share the number to the Friendship Line with them. The Friendship Line is a national hotline and there are people happy to chat all hours of the day and night every single day of the year. The number for the Friendship Line is 800-971-0016.
The Friendship Line is also open to disabled adults who are 18-years-old or older and to those who are care givers to older adults or adults with disabilities.