Conversations to Remember was founded with a clear mission: help fight cognitive decline in senior citizens by combating loneliness and social isolation. Since its establishment in 2020, the organization has enlisted the help of student volunteers nationwide to participate in virtual visits with seniors from all over the country. Thanks to the volunteers’ efforts and dedication, the lives of many seniors have been improved.
Sue, one of the senior citizens in the program, has participated in weekly virtual visits with Conversations to Remember for two years — almost as long as the organization has been active. The hour-long calls with student volunteers “have really helped [her] depression,” because she’s formed close bonds with all the people on her calls. In fact, Sue enjoyed her initial calls so much that she opted to do four a week. In those twice-weekly conversations, Sue gets the chance to openly talk about her life. Thanks to her “computer friends,” as she affectionately calls them, Sue feels heard.
Sue acknowledged that it doesn’t always start off perfectly — sometimes, she may arrive late or feel agitated because of something that has recently happened. But, as she shared with Conversations to Remember, chatting through her virtual calls leaves her feeling relaxed and ready to enjoy life. Many volunteers will understand the struggle that Sue is describing: chatting with strangers can be awkward or challenging at first. But stepping out of your comfort zone and getting to know someone can be incredibly rewarding and completely change your mood.
Sue’s positive attitude developed over time, as she got more comfortable speaking with volunteers and getting to know the new people that rotated into her call. Recently, the volunteers on Sue’s calls even surprised her, both on Thanksgiving and for Christmas. The holidays, which tend to involve social, family-oriented celebrations, can be an especially tough time for seniors whose social circle is not the same as it once was. Having someone reach out and show that they care for you can make a major difference in how you feel during the holiday season.
For Sue, Conversations to Remember is an invaluable service. The intergenerational bridge formed in virtual calls lets students and seniors learn from each other, while engaging senior citizens and creating meaningful social connections in their lives. Through the simple act of calling a senior, volunteers are reminding countless people that they are cared for and appreciated. “I don’t know what I would do without the calls,” Sue said.