10 May 2020

Staying connected: Regular phone chats the answer for seniors

8:15 pm on 10 May 2020

Forget group video calls, a group of older people in the Hutt Valley is staying connected through the Covid-19 lockdown with regular catch-ups on the telephone.

Portrait of senior women talking phone

The phone calls are especially vital for those living alone. Photo: 123RF

The 34 members of Wesley Community Action's Ageing Well network usually meet for coffee each week. But once the lockdown started, those meet-ups had to stop.

Many of the members live alone and do not have family or friends close by.

As the country moved into alert level 4, everyone was provided with an updated list of numbers - and when they got bored sitting at home all day, they picked up the phone.

Network member Nickie Preece said she has missed the regular coffee meetings and catching up with everyone.

She has been phoning people for a chat and to check in and see how they are going.

"We got really close and I actually missed a lot of the people who I knew, so that was the reason why I rang them, just to tell them I missed them and I can't wait to see them again."

Another network member, Barbara, said the phone calls were especially important for those who live alone.

"A lot of them didn't have partners, or their partners had passed on, and they needed that company," she said.

"Their families I think were very grateful to know that mum or dad had someone to talk to."

Most of the group use landlines, rather than cellphones.

Coffee group coordinator Tracey Scott also gives everyone a ring at least once a week.

"I check to make sure they have food, and that they are making calls as well as receiving them. They have actually really enjoyed getting to know each other better by talking on their phones," she said.

Some of the more tech-savvy members have managed the odd video call.

Scott said there was a chance that with the right support and devices, other group members could also learn how to video call each other.

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