Utah Program Reaching Out To Homebound, Isolated Seniors

Jan 2, 2021, 3:22 PM | Updated: 6:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Isolation and loneliness plagued Utah’s seniors well before the age of COVID-19, but one organization is helping to create meaningful relationships for seniors who are homebound or suffer from any form of isolation.

Nancy Shelley’s days are filled with silence, with only her memories to keep her company.

“Ty Detmer and his Heisman, I was security for that,” Shelley said.

And even those are fading. Shelley was diagnosed with vascular dementia and early-onset Alzheimer’s.

“I had to give up my ability to drive because I knew it wasn’t safe, and so it confined me to four walls,” Shelley said. “And nobody comes in and out and there’s not a lot of calls”

However, one friend has helped to break the silence.

“If Nancy has something going on that she needs help with, especially emotionally, she will call me,” Dahnelle Smith said.

Smith has just been a phone call away.

“She was my sanity,” Shelley said. “I knew I could count on a call every day and she always seemed to call when I needed it the most. It was just nice to hear another human voice, and especially for it to be her because I trust her.”

Dahnelle Smith has been one call away for Nancy Shelley. (Aubrey Shafer/KSL-TV)

While Shelley and Smith have never met in person, their conversations have all been over the phone as part of the Friendly Callers program.

“It’s where a senior who is homebound gets a call once a week, at least, from somebody who is a volunteer. They can make it more than that if they want to, we have one that I think call once a day,” said Bonnie Lewis.

Lewis created the Friendly Callers program after seeing so much loneliness among homebound seniors, who sometimes go without human contact for weeks.

Bonnie Lewis, Friendly Callers program creator. (Aubrey Shafer/KSL-TV)

“They even put it with smoking,” Lewis. “It can be that dangerous for their physical health.”

And something as simple as a phone call goes a long way.

“It’s really nice to hear another voice,” Shelley said. “We are not meant to be alone.”

Friendly Callers programs serve seniors in Wasatch, Summit, and Utah counties, and they accept volunteers from anywhere in the state.

If you would like to volunteer, or if you or someone you know would benefit from phone calls, you can find more information here.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
12 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Despite reaching 5,000 deaths, Utah’s COVID-19 numbers are down

The director of the World Health Organization said yesterday about COVID-19, “the end is in sight,” even if we are not there yet.
23 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LAURA UNGAR AP Science Writer

Is COVID-19 winding down? Scientists say no

New booster shots have arrived and social distancing guidelines have eased but COVID-19 infections aren't going away anytime soon. Experts predict the scourge that's already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will linger far into the future as the virus continues to cause deaths and may well mutate or evolve into a new disease.
30 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...

US clears updated COVID boosters targeting newest variants

U.S. clears updated COVID-19 boosters targeting the newest omicron strain; shots could begin within days.
1 month ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Updated COVID-19 boosters likely available next month as ‘twindemic’ fears emerge

Concerns about a potential surge in COVID-19 and the flu at the same time this fall are emerging again. Each of the last two years, warnings about a so-called “twindemic” did not materialize, but this year could be different.
2 months ago
FILE: Davis School District....
Mike Anderson

Davis School District adds resources to handle COVID-19

The Davis School District is shifting their approach to COVID, putting more decisions in the hands of parents while getting more funds to help monitor the virus.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Utah Program Reaching Out To Homebound, Isolated Seniors