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Without Walls Program Connects Lonely Arizona Seniors Using Technology

Loneliness and isolation are still issues affecting older adults. Despite progress being made with the vaccine rollout in Arizona, life is not going back to normal for seniors just yet. Now one organization is trying to eliminate loneliness and isolation using technology.

Before the pandemic, many older adults in the West Valley spent time at Banner Olive Branch Senior Center in Sun City. It’s a place where they could socialize, enjoy lunch or participate in activities.

Then, COVID-19 hit, and the center closed. Right now, the only way clients see each other is when they pick up meals at the center.

"The isolation, the feelings of depression just continued to expand," said Dawn Gileau, the center’s director.

And since people can’t spend time at the center socializing, Banner decided to go to them. They partnered with Televeda, an online platform for people 65 and older, to create its Without Walls program.

"And the socialization is done through the form of different sorts of experiences, whether it's educational experiences, whether it's delivering fitness classes, it's delivering art classes, opportunities for people to do a discussion group," said Shruti Gurudanti, Televeda’s CEO and co-founder.

And it’s live. For seniors who don’t have the technology, Banner is providing what they call "grandpads" — tablets for seniors.

Those interested in participating in Banner Olive Branch Without Walls (or signing up a loved one) can do so by visiting l ive.televeda.com/signup and using the referral ID BANNEROLIVE21.

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.