AREA AGENCY CONTINUES RESPONDING TO SENIOR HELP LINE CALLS FOR ASSISTANCE FROM VALLEY SENIORS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
By Lisa Padilla -
Friday Apr 17, 2020
The Area Agency on Aging continues responding to an unprecedented number of requests for assistance from seniors in Maricopa County to the Senior Help Line (602-264-HELP (4357)).
Since March 18, the Area Agency on Aging has received more than 15,500 calls to the 24-hour information and referral hotline, more than three times the number of calls received during the previous four weeks. During the increase in calls, the agency has served more than 1,850 new clients.
The Senior Help Line is the Agency’s 24-hour information and assistance resource and central intake. Senior Help Line staff works with individual callers to determine their needs, how to address them and identifies appropriate resources or services. Among them are home-delivered meals, housing, long-term care, transportation, caregiver support, support groups and respite.
“The community turns to the Senior Help Line for a wide range of services and it was so important to respond to those diverse needs as quickly and aggressively as possible,” said Area Agency on Aging President and CEO Mary Lynn Kasunic. “Though the number of calls has declined slightly, it’s still well above our usual volume and we’re not about to slow our responses down. Among our biggest concerns right now is addressing the impact of isolation on seniors. Last week, our professional staff began telephone reassurance calls to 596 vulnerable individuals.”
When the pandemic hit, the Agency assigned more professional staff to handle the calls and relied on AmeriCorps members, volunteers and professional staff to handle the resulting responses.
A significant number of calls were related to food, which prompted the Agency to step outside its regular service-response protocols to deliver 1,080 food boxes and arrange for 722 Meals on Wheels deliveries.
“Normally, and these are not normal times by any stretch of the imagination, we are not in the food-delivery business,” Kasunic said. “But we heard from so many people who were not able to go to the grocery store and we responded to those needs, thanks to the incredible help we received from our AmeriCorps members, professional staff, volunteers and CSAA Insurance, which donated 2,400 sack lunches for us to distribute.
“These are times when the humanity of our community is so deeply reflected in the concern for others who may be struggling,” she added.
Kasunic said that the Senior Help Line also can provide information about volunteer opportunities for those who may be interested.
Since 1974, Area Agency on Aging has been planning, developing, coordinating and delivering critical programs and services to older adults and their caregivers, adults age 18+ with physical disabilities and long-term care needs, adults with HIV, residents in long term care facilities, and survivors of late-life domestic violence and elder abuse. The Agency develops new and innovative programs in response to unmet needs throughout Maricopa County to provide support for older adults to remain active and age at home in their communities. For more information, contact the 24-Hour Senior HELP LINE at 602-264-HELP (4357) or Toll Free at 888-783-7500. For the hard of hearing and deaf, TEXT (520) 775-1899SMS (Short Message Service). Visit the website at http://www.aaaphx.org.