Loneliness and social isolation in older adults pose very real health risks. For instance, prolonged isolation has been shown to be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
To address this issue, Empowerline has launched a program called the One2One Telephone Reassurance Program — or simply One2One — in which volunteers reach out and call metro Atlanta residents who are 60 or older, or who live with a disability, providing welcome companionship with these residents
To learn more, we spoke with Nicola Williams, program coordinator for Empowerline’s One2One Telephone Reassurance Program.
Empowerline: What is the goal of the One2One Program?
Nicola: One2One’s goal is simply to decrease social isolation and loneliness by providing telephone contact with trained volunteers. Those volunteers can share resources, information, and referrals with clients who express need — but at its heart, it’s about providing a sense of well-being through one-on-one communication with another caring individual.
Empowerline: How does it work?
Nicola: It’s pretty simple. Our volunteers call their clients twice each week for at least 15 minutes, as agreed upon by both individuals.
Of course, we ensure all our volunteers are safe and trustworthy. All volunteers must pass a fingerprint background check—and all receive initial training, too. (Interested in volunteering? Learn more here.)
Empowerline: Why is a program like One2One necessary and important, especially now?
Nicola: Well, unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is still going strong—so, this year continues to be challenging for older metro Atlanta residents who are avoiding social interaction to keep themselves safe.
Meanwhile, social disconnection among older adults is a serious issue that’s on the rise, with approximately one-third of older adults reporting social isolation, loneliness, or both in a 2017 study.
Empowerline: What kind of rewards do people get from volunteering for this program?
Nicola: It has been proven time and again that volunteering is beneficial not only to recipients of service, but also to volunteers themselves. You get a sense of connection to others, an opportunity to learn about new things, and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made a real difference. (Learn more about the One2One Program, including how to volunteer.)
Empowerline: What if a reader is interested in receiving calls from a volunteer?
Nicola: We’re absolutely open to new clients. It bears repeating: Loneliness is not a normal part of the aging process, and we’re here to help. Just call Empowerline at (404) 463-3333, or reach me directly at (470) 378-1447, to sign up or make a referral. Learn more about receiving calls.