Seniors Find Lifeline in Phone Support Groups

The phone rang the other afternoon inside 91-year-old Lynnie Rayburn’s disheveled South Berkeley apartment. Although confined to a wheelchair and unable to move more than a few inches, she had little trouble picking up the receiver.

“Hello, Lynn?” came a woman’s bright voice through the speaker. “I’m going to connect you to your class.”

Across the line, six other seniors waited with Rayburn, ready to flex their vocal muscles for the afternoon’s call-in session, “Sing-Along Broadway.” Over about 50 minutes, participants gave a cappella renditions of songs from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

The session is one of dozens of over-the-phone classes and support groups available to seniors in the Bay Area and beyond. Senior Center Without Walls in Oakland runs more than 80 of them. The small nonprofit is among several organizations in the region striving to tackle a growing and frequently unrecognized problem among seniors: loneliness and social isolation.

Read the full story at SFGate.