MINNEAPOLIS, April 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) today is launching a statewide effort to enroll 10,000 lonely and isolated older adults in Minnesota in its new Elder Friends Phone Companions program, which matches elders with background-checked volunteer phone companions who are ready to share an on-going friendship by phone during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
"An estimated 90,000 older adults across Minnesota were already at risk of loneliness and social isolation, and the novel coronavirus is cutting off the few visitors and vital social connections many people have," said James Falvey, LBFE executive director. "Research data indicates socially isolated elders are at greater risk of suffering severe depression and adverse health outcomes as a result. Friendship is the great antidote to loneliness, and we are urging everyone to help us connect 10,000 elders through this effort."
Elder Friends Phone Companions is an online database and matching system that connects elders with volunteers and facilitates on-going friendships over the telephone. The program is free for elders and open to anyone in the state of Minnesota who is feeling particularly alone and isolated during this pandemic. Registering is simple for elders – either by email, online or by phone (info below) -- and requires limited personal information. Every volunteer Phone Companion has successfully completed a background check, and only essential information is exchanged.
Minnesotans are encouraged to volunteer to be Phone Companions. They must be at least 18 years old and successfully complete a background check. "Often with a crisis of this magnitude, we can feel powerless to make any meaningful difference," Falvey said. "By becoming a Phone Companion volunteer, Minnesotans can bring the warmth of friendship into the lives of lonely and isolated elders during this unprecedented time."
Since 1972, LBFE's sole mission has been to alleviate elder loneliness and isolation through meaningful, face-to-face relationships between older adults and volunteers. The COVID-19 challenged LBFE to quickly develop a new online matching program that facilitated telephone friendships and expand its geographical reach to the entire state of Minnesota. Elder Friends Phone Companions will continue to be a source of hope and support for any isolated elder during this crisis and beyond.
Elder & Volunteer online registration: https://www.littlebrothersmn.org/phone-companions/
Elder registration by email: [email protected]
Elder registration by phone: 612-746-0737
Contact: Mike Weiner
SOURCE Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly of Minnesota