It occurred to me that we seniors suffer from two types of isolation–social isolation and technological isolation. I personally don’t have a problem with the former, but I do suffer from the latter. Many seniors, though, have a problem with the social isolation, and our statistics reflect this.
According to the latest census, more than a quarter of us over 65 live alone. Unfortunately the percentage will only rise as we age, due to a natural progression of life. While not all seniors living alone are socially isolated, living alone certainly predisposes us to the condition of social isolation.
Preparation for this Phase of Life
My mother-in-law must have instinctively known this. She was in her late 60s when Chuck’s father passed away.
By the time she was in her mid 70s she moved closer to two of her children, leaving behind a vibrant community of friends and neighbors. She explained that she thought it better to do the move at that age instead of later when she might be unable to make new friends as easily. I believe she knew that social isolation would be a problem as she aged.
Her fortitude amazed us. Within a short time after the move she joined the local Woman’s Club and Tallahassee’s First Baptist Church. In no time, we were being introduced as Dody’s son and daughter-in-law. She made friends quickly and remained as active as she had been back in Fort Lauderdale.
Losing Loved Ones–A Fact of Life
My Grandmother Roe used to lament about how she was the last one left in
her rather large immediate family. One of the older siblings, she was the lone survivor of eight brothers and sisters. Also, her husband passed away 38 years before she did.
It is a fact of life that if we live long, many of our loved ones and friends will pass before us. This is another predisposing factor for social isolation. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it is an inevitable occurrence either for ourselves or someone we love.
Sometimes They Just Move Away
Sometimes, though, it doesn’t take a death to create the conditions for social isolation. This same grandmother was another case in point. She lived next door to us my entire childhood, so she had lots of social interaction coming from right next door.
But that all changed in the mid 1970s, about the time I left for college when the rest of my immediate family moved to central Florida. My father’s company promoted him to a company-wide supervisory position, but it required the family to move away. It left my grandmother by herself. She was in her mid 70s.
Back then she was considered a “shut in”, a term we no longer use. She did not drive, so she depended on others; otherwise she was totally independent.
Mom and Dad came back to visit once a month, and I drove over from Tallahassee every other week. She also had other family members and friends nearby who helped with her more pressing needs.
What I remember her talking about, though, was the loneliness. She became someone she had never been before–a real talker. She would talk your ear off, where before she was a fairly quiet woman. She just needed someone to talk to.
I realize now that she was socially isolated during this six year period. By 1980 I moved back next door with my husband and toddler and another child on the way.
TeleConnect4Seniors May be the Answer
In May a company called TeleConnect for Seniors contacted me and asked if I would try out their new service recently launched in May. Their service is a US-based call center designed to be used by people like you, me, and others like my grandmother who might need help.
It is a subscription-based service, but they offered me a year’s subscription to try them out. They were obviously very trusting because they set up the service with no signed contract and no strings attached. Teleconnect offered me the third (Premium) level so I could try it out fully. This has been my only compensation.
The service runs 24/7, 365 days a year. So it is always available to help, always there when I need to call.
Not only are they there to answer general questions, but they can also conduct online research for me, provide help with my appointments, and best of all provide help with computers and mobile devices. They can even serve as a “wellness check” service, calling you or a loved one to periodically see how they’re doing and if they need anything.
How TeleConnect for Seniors Can Be Used
Can you imagine what kind of help it may have provided for my grandmother Roe, especially when combined with today’s companies that deliver groceries with only a phone call? She might have had trouble with the technology but not TeleConnect making the order for her.
I can envision someone calling her and asking her if she had any needs for the week. She might have said that she was running low on milk, which she often did. Or maybe Anacin. She took Anacin for arthritis like it was candy. What a relief it would have been to my dad when a stranger on the phone took care of her grocery order for the week.
And can you imagine how helpful it would have been to have someone call her a couple of times a week just to talk? For her that might have been the best service of all. It could be a tool to combat social isolation.
TeleConnect for Caregivers
TeleConnect for Seniors can also work very well for those of us still in the workplace who have to care for a senior parent or spouse that is less mobile but wants to remain independent.
My parents and grandparents (mother’s parents) were all ill at the same time back in 2003. I just about went crazy dealing with all the insurance and Medicare forms and issues for the four of them, a job that my Dad did until he was stricken with pancreatic cancer.
I would have given anything for this service then–someone to help me wade through the endless paperwork, the forms, the lists of medications. I used to lose a few brain cells every time I had to figure out which medications to change to when their meds fell off the “accepted insurance” lists. ??
TeleConnect for Myself
But what about my needs today? After all I am 63. Well, a few weeks ago, I found myself in a technologically-challenging situation. I have one of those newfangled routers that has nodes throughout the house for more even coverage. So the technology is new.
But it wasn’t a problem for Cynthia, who answered the phone at Teleconnect for Seniors. I found Cynthia respectful, patient, and understanding. To fix my problem she worked directly with the company who sold me the router. I earlier tried to reach them with no luck.
After I turned my problem over to her, Cynthia was friendly, helpful and promised to get back to me in 15 minutes. And she did! Wow!! She told me that they would call me momentarily, and they did. Double Wow!
TeleConnect for Seniors offers three different levels of service, starting at just $29.95 per month. For more information about TeleConnect For Seniors, call 877-271-9599 . Or go to www.teleconnect4seniors.com.
How it works
All of us wish to age with independence and our dignity intact. I believe TeleConnect for Seniors might be able to help with this process. Most seniors I know do not want to be a burden to their families. Having a company to help them cope might be the answer.