Phone Calls Help Elders Get Through Hot Times

During a week like this, with the city facing its first heat wave of the summer, elders who can’t leave their homes are at risk. A call from a trusted friend can be a lifeline.

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Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Telephone Reassurance program provides just that.

"It’s checking in on them to see what they need," says Goddard Riverside Senior Center Director Marcia Mason.

"A majority have a family member or a home health aide, but sometimes they’ll say ‘my aide didn’t show up.’ And we’ll help them find out what happened and make sure they’re OK."

The calls go out weekly, or less frequently if that’s what a recipient requests. But when the heat gets dangerously high, "if this is not the week, we’ll call anyway," says Mason.

The program is funded by New York City’s Department for the Aging.

Members who come to the Senior Center on a daily basis also have a less formal system for keeping tabs on each other.

"If someone doesn’t come in, they run into my office and say, ‘we have to call them!’" Mason smiles.

"It’s a community. A lot of them say this is their other family."