San Antonio Oasis Chat Line Connects Seniors During Pandemic


A new phone service aims to connect Bexar County seniors looking for someone to talk to when they’re feeling lonely.

The service, called Silver Connect, is provided by San Antonio Oasis and is open to adults aged 50 and over. The program started at the end of July, but the big kickoff was this week. The Silver Connect phone number is 210-756-5551.

“It’s person to person,” said Brenda Schmachtenberger, CEO of Oasis. “We had to investigate to find out if there was something to call when they felt lonely. We are not trying to solve problems. This is primarily a talk line, but we can offer resources if they need food or a caregiver.

Schmachtenberger said plans for the program began with the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Successful Aging and Living in San Antonio. The foundation has offered several programs for seniors, including the Caregiver Toolkit and pre-pandemic initiatives that help seniors cope with social isolation.

Angel Zuniga Martinez, vice president of communications and public affairs for the foundation, said it “served as the city’s headquarters for almost 60 years, bringing together philanthropy with some of our community’s greatest needs.” .

“As one of our key areas of impact, our support for successful aging and this collaborative Silver Connect program aims to help the elderly population of San Antonio who have faced disproportionately social isolation and deprivation. loneliness due to COVID, ”Martinez said.

In addition to providing emotional support, the Silver Connect line also helps with grief through help, reassurance, information and referrals.

Organizers said the need for the program played a bigger role during the coronavirus. According to Successly Aging and Living in San Antonio, older residents at increased health risks have been the most isolated during the pandemic.

Schmachtenberger said there is no limit to the service and attendees can call as many times as they want. She said isolation is as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. According to the AARP, loneliness affects 25 to 60% of older Americans. Social isolation has also been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure.

Fourteen Oasis volunteers take phone calls. Volunteers completed nine hours of training with representatives from Adult Protective Services and Our Lady of the Lake University.

The program is sponsored by the City of San Antonio, the WellMed Charitable Foundation and the San Antonio Area Foundation. The city of San Antonio is the primary funder of the two-year, $ 90,000 pilot program.

The program’s opening hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

San Antonio Oasis promotes healthy aging through active lifestyles, lifelong learning and volunteer engagement. For more information about the association and the courses, visit https://san-antonio.oasisnet.org/ or call 210-236-5954.

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