The program connects seniors with volunteers, locally (where and when possible), aiming to develop bonds of friendship. Each volunteer communicates with the elderly beneficiaries by telephone on a weekly basis (and/or pays home visits, if it is possible, due to the pandemic). In this way, volunteers make the beneficiaries feel like members of a community that cares about them, while activating them intellectually and emotionally. At the same time, volunteers feel that they can be active citizens and contribute to society while benefiting from the experiences of the elderly.
“From my point of view, I would say that as I am much younger than the beneficiaries, I have gained a lot of wisdom, because they are people with special experiences in their lives” (telephone communication volunteer).
Within the framework of the Friendship at Any Age program, a helpline – 210-6101300 – is also available to older people who feel lonely, as well as to their caregivers, friends, and relatives. The helpline operates from Monday to Friday, 11 am - 8 pm, providing communication in a safe environment with suitably trained staff. When needed, information is provided regarding relevant social services. Local charges apply for a phone call to the 210-6101300 helpline. Calls are anonymous, and Prolepsis Institute does not maintain or process personal data.
Ageing should be a positive experience for each individual and should also be accompanied with the potential of active participation in the social, economic, cultural and spiritual aspects of society. Socialization, human interaction and Friendship at any Age can play a significant role in improving the quality of life and health of elders. Social connection and communication are essential to human life, more so today, when due to the pandemic and the measures of social distancing, elders feel more lonely and socially isolated.
In Greece, 21.5% of the population is over 65 years old. The population of our country is not only aging, but is also getting isolated. It is estimated, that 550.000 seniors live alone. Besides the degradation of the quality of life, social isolation and loneliness have adverse effects on one’s physical and mental health.