If you're concerned about a parent, or other relative or friend who's over 65, and who lives alone in Miami-- or is just in need of friendly conversation, you're going to be thrilled and relieved to learn about the free Seniors Never Alone Program run by the Switchboard of Miami. Last week I had the pleasure to tour the Switchboard's center and observe first-hand what this dedicated group of workers (six telephone reassurance specialists and four volunteers) do every day.
When a senior enrolls in the program they are assigned to a specialist who speaks their language. Each specialist calls the same seniors every week. If you think this sounds impersonal, think again. Each time they call they take copious notes so they are aware if the senior had a doctor's appointment, if their son was expected to visit, if they are going out of town, as well as other pieces of their lives that they wish to share.
If during the conversation something doesn't seem right, or if the senior cannot be located, the specialist can also provide coordination of emergency services, tracking of missing seniors, and coordination with medical practitioners. Thus far 650 seniors are enrolled.
I sat with Bianca, who spoke English and Creole. My plan was to observe how she conducted a call or two -- however I was so capitvated by what I heard that I listened to several calls which ranged anywhere from 3 to 25 minutes, depending on the level of engagement that the senior wanted. It was clear that relationships and bonds had developed between Bianca and the individuals she was spoke with.
It's easy for your parent or other relative or friend to enroll. There is a very short form to be completed One can call 2-1-1 to enroll or can call Alexandra Schneider, the Senior Manager of the program at (305) 646-3606 for more information. Or email me at Nancy@senioritymatters.com and I will send you the form. You'll be glad that you did!
Sometimes it's the most simple ideas that are the best!
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