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My First Call To A Lonely Shut-In

My First Call To A Lonely Shut-In

A while back I decided to set up a service where a live person would basically call shut in or lonely people and talk with them to help them to not feel lonely.

The web site about the service sat there for months online with no sales and I just figured it was a dead dog. I didn’t expect anything to happen with it and then one day I was checking my email and there was an order.

I got on the phone with the man who had ordered the service for his mother who was in a rest home. He said he had just sent me a “nasty” email. He did this after he ordered since he was “having second thoughts” and didn’t want someone “reading off a script” or “telling her how sorry they felt for her because she was in a rest home”.

I assured him it was just going to be friendly conversation and I explained to him how I used to visit rest homes once a week for several years visiting lonely elderly people who didn’t have much family nearby. I explained how it felt like I was basically just having a conversation with my grandmother. We would just have friendly conversations and it would cheer us both up. I told him how I was offered money for this, but that I never took a dime.  

The last statement felt a bit awkward after I said it since I am charging for this service, but I’m charging much less then any competition I could find.

He felt better about the situation and said he would try it for a month.

He also mentioned that she had dementia. He said she had problems with her short-term memory. This did not build my confidence that I would be able to build some kind of rapport with her on the phone.

I asked him if she was going to be expecting my call and he said she was not.

This made me a little nervous and I imagined her picking up the phone and saying something like “Who is this? I don’t know you!”…Click! I was concerned she might think it was some kind of sales call.

Her son said I could tell her I was a friend of his. This made me feel a little better, but not much. I was imagining having the first call being a disaster and having this venture be even more of a failure then it already was.

I was supposed to call his mother in Vermont at 7:30 PM East Coast Time and I called about 6:30 PM thinking that most people in a rest home go to bed around 7:30 PM. No one answered the phone and I figured…. I probably wouldn’t even be able to get her on the phone.

I tried again a 7:34 and she picked up the phone.

“Hello”, she said.

“Hi”, I replied. “Is Mary there?” (name changed to protect her privacy)

She said it was her and I let her know I was a friend of her son’s and she said, “It’s so nice to hear from you!”

We had a nice chat for about 10 minutes and she told me about her family and growing up in Connecticut and other things.

She was so warm and friendly and very coherent.

It was a very pleasant call and I was reminded of the days when I used to visit rest homes. It was kind of the highlight of my day.

I told her I enjoyed talking with her and she said she hoped I would drop by and visit her.

I told her if I was in town I would enjoy that, but I live on the West Coast. I told her that I would call her the next day though and she said she was looking forward to it.

It felt good to brighten up someone’s day who may be having trouble getting around. It gave me a warm and fussy feeling inside.

I’m looking forward to more Be-A-Friend calls in the future.

I talked with her son for about a half an hour today and we both felt the calls were helping his mother. He said he wants to sign up for another month.

Who knows if this service will lead anywhere, but if I can help even one person, then I consider it a success.

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