Sunshine Calls

bu AustinMom

The Dell Medical School at UT Austin and Meals on Wheels of Central Texas have been testing out a program that could help combat the health effects of loneliness and isolation, particularly among older people. (See link below) 

This calling program struck a cord with me as it is something my local women’s group started up in November as well. Our holiday social is hosted by the past presidents and this year instead of just sending out the electronic reservation link, we split up all the members and called them to (1) personally invite them to the social and (2) check in to see how they were doing and offer assistance to get on our electronic meetings as well. The response was so positive that we are now going to be calling members every other month, at least those who are not actively participating in monthly meetings or small group events (all except the hiking group are online). 

I volunteer in another group and our turn out to our planning meetings has really fallen off. Because of the success of the calls, I sent cards to each volunteer letting them know they were missed, thanking them for their service and reminding them of the next meeting. Our meeting after I sent the cards increased attendance by 50%. 

Are you finding that phone calls and letters are coming back? I think so much business and social life is connected to the computer that we are tiring of it. The phone call and snail mail now seem so much more personal. What do you think?

https://www.kut.org/health/2021-01-12/as-isolation-intensifies-for-older-adults-during-the-pandemic-researchers-test-out-a-treatment-for-loneliness

31 thoughts on “Sunshine Calls

  1. Since the pandemic lockdown began I’ve written some letters to older women from church and my mom’s friends at the CCRC where she lived. This is a good reminder that I should keep the practice up.

    My church has had people call all the members once a month since April. I know my regular caller and enjoy the quick check in.

  2. I have a couple friends with whom I have weekly phone calls – we usually go for walks in our respective neighborhoods while we’re talking on the phone. I often schedule them at lunch during the work week as a way of ensuring I take a break and get out. They’ve been life-savers.

  3. DD is in a club at school that has adopted a nursing home and is writing letters to the residents. The residents have been writing back and seem to really appreciate the contact.

  4. I hated phone calls back when we had to rely on them, and I still hate phone calls. I don’t like making them or receiving them. There is something about phones that make me tongue-tied even with people who I am happy to talk to face-to-face. I also feel like it is hard to remember what was said in a phone call, which is bad when it is an important business-y call. On the other hand, I still like writing letters and cards, and feel terrible that I did not manage to get Christmas cards out this year. I also love getting letters and cards.
    But a good old email is still my preferred method of communication and has been since the late 80’s.

  5. I talk to my friends for hours on the phone. This replaced meeting for coffee, drinks, and dinners. We used to zoom, but it is the same as talking on the phone except that you have to stare at all of your imperfections. I can also walk around my house and do dusting or some other minor chores when I am on the phone.

    I think our last cell phone invoice had about ten minutes of talk for DD and thousands of minutes for me. I’ve been trying to call my parents everyday to make sure that they are breathing and not sick. I know the grandkids were also trying to FaceTime with the grandparents until we were able to start meeting them in driveways. That disappeared to the cold weather, but i think the grandkids are texting.

  6. My post got eaten, but I was agreeing with Mooshi. I hate phone calls. Even making a call to make a reservation is almost impossible for me.

  7. I have a friend in the home country that I call roughly every other month. We both agree that without the pandemic we probably wouldn’t have kept in touch as much. I have a friend here that I’ve tried to call a few times, but she always seems to be in a hurry to get off the phone so the conversations last less than 5 minutes. We can talk for a long time in person so I think she just isn’t a phone person.

  8. “I also feel like it is hard to remember what was said in a phone call, which is bad when it is an important business-y call.”

    I agree, and I try to follow up any business calls in which important decisions were made with a summary email. I like being able to dig up the email a year later when the parties on the call might have already forgotten what was decided.

    “On the other hand, I still like writing letters and cards, and feel terrible that I did not manage to get Christmas cards out this year.”

    Me too. I like writing the standard ‘what we’ve been up to’ letter to include with our cards. I try to keep those to, DS/DD are in x year at x school and involved in xx activities, DW still works at y, I still work at z, significant life changes (e.g., a parent of DW or me passed) and perhaps mention where the photos in the card were taken. IOW, try to walk the line between bragging and informing.

    “I also love getting letters and cards.
    But a good old email is still my preferred method of communication and has been since the late 80’s.”

    Ditto.

  9. “But a good old email is still my preferred method of communication and has been since the late 80’s.”

    To a certain extent, for email has been supplanted by texting, which is easier and quicker than email on my phone. But the clunkiness of my phone keypad makes that only viable for short messages. I far prefer email for any messages of more than a couple sentences.

  10. I talk on the phone with my college roommate about once every other month for an hour or 2. We always pick up right where we left off. I’ll talk with my parents on the phone a couple of times a week (when we’re not seeing them) but not for as long.

    The nonprofit where I’m on the board is doing thank you notes in addition to the regular tax receipt letters this year – we’re hoping to increase donor engagement.

  11. The nonprofit I volunteer for has always had low turnout for meetings and events, except for our annual fundraiser. Last year we couldn’t hold it, and in the last six months the Facebook chatter has diminished quite a bit. Connecting via old fashioned notes might me a way to reconnect. Due to the nature of this nonprofit, get togethers are not advised yet.

  12. Mooshi and Lemon — Thanks for sharing. I hate phone calls, too, and I thought I was the only one!

    My best friend from college and I still write letters to each other. Not often — a couple of times a year — but I do love getting her news in her handwriting.

  13. “The nonprofit where I’m on the board is doing thank you notes in addition to the regular tax receipt letters this year – we’re hoping to increase donor engagement.”

    I send business holiday cards every year to professional contacts. I always hand-write a note on the back. Nothing long — just a couple of sentences — but I get great feedback from those cards. Many recipients go out of their way to thank me for them. I think in this day and age where almost everything is electronic, and where even paper holiday cards are often not even hand-signed by the sender, people really appreciate receiving something that is personalized to them, and written in your own hand.

  14. “I hate phone calls, too, and I thought I was the only one!”

    Years ago, I read a book called something like The Introvert Advantage. It had an entire chapter about the telephone aversion, and said it was one of the most common characteristics of introverted people, that cut across all walks of life. I don’t mind talking to family and friends on the phone, but I will put off calling for appointments or to schedule things because I just hate doing it!

  15. @Rhett re: sailing. Thank you for posting that. Wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. I went out to Battery Park a few years ago when the Cup boats had some (demo?) races in NY harbor. Seeing that speed up-close was literally breathtaking. Nothing like seeing races almost forty years ago from a cruise ship in Newport…

  16. I am an introvert who has trained myself over the years to gather the courage to speak to people. I will be nervous before a presentation or phone call but once I get going, I am a rah rah cheery type. It helps me to practice mentally. I received a lot of feedback in my first couple of jobs and had a chance to practice in small group settings. I was trained to speak up. I still would rather do emails than pick up the phone but my training kicks in and I pick up the phone if necessary.

  17. Different strokes. My friends call when a text or email exchange goes on too long. I am like lauren. We have rediscovered the phone. Ear buds help.

  18. I guess it’s late enough for a drift…

    Interesting article in yesterday’s paper on reasons for some airline requirements. Takeaways:

    Some airlines require passengers to wear shoes during takeoff and landing, because the tarmac can be very hot, hot enough to burn the feet of passengers who need to evacuate onto the tarmac.

    “You’re asked to raise the window shades for takeoff and landing so you can see at a glance if it’s safer to evacuate from one side of the aircraft than the other; to fit your oxygen mask before helping others because when all the air gets sucked out the plane (and your lungs) during a decompression, you have only seconds before incoherence renders you unable to help yourself let alone anyone else; and to keep your seat belt fastened at all times because passengers have been known to bounce off walls and ceilings during severe turbulence, resulting in broken bones and even paralysis.”

    There are more.

    https://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/features/story/2021/jan/06/why-behind-those-airline-safety-videos/855329/

    Another tip I’ve read elsewhere is to wear natural fibers directly against your skin. High temperatures and/or flames can cause synthetic fibers to melt into your skin.

  19. Another PSA based on an article in yesterday’s paper: It is suggested not to go snorkeling shortly after a long flight.

    A study of snorkeling drownings and near-drownings here (unfortunately not an infrequent occurrence here, especially among tourists) found that something called rapid onset pulmonary edema was the cause of some, possibly most, of the drownings.

    While it is not known if there is any connection between this type of edema and the type associated with air travel, the suggestion is to allow one’s body some recovery time after a long flight before snorkeling.

    There’s also some caution about issues with full-face masks and snorkels.

    https://apnews.com/article/drownings-hawaii-honolulu-09248c64959195ca8288d59ffd28b3c5

  20. We have a “situation” with the school district that I need to deal with this morning. More details later, but the letter from the district said to call the assistant principal. No way,Jose. I am emailing him, and cc’ing the 504 coordinator and the guidance counselor too. I want this in writing.

  21. Finn, thanks for the cheery article. I may never fly again :-)

    And I never would be able to snorkel. Once, in a swim class, they had us put those masks on and paddle around the pool. I literally could not force myself to breath once my head was under the water. My logical brain said, you have a pipe thingie sticking above the water so you can breath but my lizard brain said, if you breath you will suck in water, so don’t do it.

  22. Mooshi, good luck with whatever it is. And I agree to get it in writing, even though I don’t know what it’s about.

  23. OK, here is the story. My DD is enrolled in this “learning support” class as part of her 504 plan. She is my third kid to go through it, so I know the class well. It is a glorified study hall, with the teacher paying little attention to the students, but it is the pound of flesh the district exacts in return for providing the accomodations that are really needed.
    The problem is, evidently on remote days, the teacher was simply having them submit a Google form saying they had done work during the period. This requirement was not listed in the Google Classroom assignment list so DD kept forgetting, and I had no idea she needed to do anything in this class. The absences were not mentioned in her progress report and the teacher never notified us. And then, on Saturday we get a letter from the assistant principal saying DD is going to flunk this class because she has over the max number of unexcused absences. I don’t even know what the implications of flunking a “support class” are. And of all people, the teacher for this class is supposed to be aware of her 504 which states explicitly that she needs reminders from the teacher and that requirements are to be posted on Google Classroom when she is not physically in the classroom. So she is going to get nailed for the very class that is supposed to be HELPING her???

    She is having no trouble at all with her academic classes, where all of the teachers are very good at posting requirements and assignments on Classroom. That is in fact the main support that she needs, but the learning support teacher was the one person not doing it.

    So I just spent the last hour composing an email to the assistant principal, cc’ing the teacher, the 504 commmittee chairperson and the guidance counselor.

  24. And of all people, the teacher for this class is supposed to be aware of her 504 which states explicitly that she needs reminders from the teacher and that requirements are to be posted on Google Classroom when she is not physically in the classroom. So she is going to get nailed for the very class that is supposed to be HELPING her???

    Some people just need to be tased right in the snatch.

  25. Mooshi, that is infuriating. Was the letter sent in the mail? I’m sure they have some requirement to do that, but the nonurgency of notifications of something so concerning, is well, concerning. A phone call or email months/weeks ago would have helped.

    Last week I got an email from the reading specialist of DD2. She asked if everything was okay, because DD2 had missed the last 5 out of 6 google meets with her. I had no idea she wasn’t getting on those calls, as I can’t monitor her all day long. My response was to email me when she doesn’t show up and also email DD2/google chat with her at that moment.

    I don’t know if the school doesn’t want to get parents involved because is becomes a slippery slope of parental overreach, but waiting is never the answer.

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