News & Success Stories

Recognized Partners across San Diego County are the driving force behind the strength, reach and impact of the Live Well San Diego vision. Read their inspiring success stories below.

ElderHelp Reaches Out During Storm to Give Comfort, Reassurance

Post Date:10/03/2023 12:08 PM

3x1 banner elderhelp storm hillary 

Gretchen Veihl, Director of Philanthropy, ElderHelp


It was just one of 300 calls made by ElderHelp as Hurricane Hilary bore down on San Diego. But it was everything to one client sitting home alone and frightened, whose preparation consisted of a flashlight next to her television. 

“I have no family so this really means a lot,” she said. “Hearing your voice really helps. You have been so wonderful to me so that I can stay in my house.”

Late on Friday, August 18, an alarm was sounded about the potential impact of the storm in San Diego County. ElderHelp’s staff and volunteers immediately took action.

Knowing that many of their clients are isolated, ElderHelp mobilized their team to personally call nearly 300 seniors, providing resources and reassurance until the storm passed. The interactions were heartwarming, encouraging, and inspiring as everyone literally "weathered the storm" together.

Thankfully, Hilary was downgraded to a tropical storm before reaching San Diego, but high winds and flooding were still expected in many areas of the county. Imagine being elderly, living alone, worrying about a power outage and wondering if you would remain safe. These calls provided the reassurance that many clients needed.

Although ElderHelp initiates over 600 routine check-in calls each month, those made during the storm were perhaps the most meaningful.

“Having the call system in place made emergency mobilization seamless when Elderhelp realized the potential for storm damage and impact,” said Deb Martin, ElderHelp CEO and executive director. 

ElderHelp’s R-U-O-K (Are You OK?) calls are a lifeline for lonely seniors who look forward to hearing a friendly voice and engaging in lively conversation. They also give ElderHelp’s staff and volunteers a glimpse into the life of each senior.

“I can tell if something isn’t quite right and can offer resources or guidance,” said one volunteer. “But really, I get just as much out of the calls as the clients. I love to hear their stories and learn about their past.”

Since 1973, ElderHelp has been an advocate for San Diego’s older adults, believing that helping seniors age with dignity in their homes creates a stronger more vibrant community for people of all ages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the senior population is expected to double by 2030. Feeding America data shows one in 11 seniors across the nation is food insecure. ElderHelp's proactive and preventive services help seniors live more healthy and independent lives — in their homes.

Services like friendly visiting, daily check-in calls, grocery shopping or deliveries, rides to the doctor, housing resources — all of these services reduce isolation and the risk of falls in the home. Clients also receive home safety and maintenance assessments that start with a home inspection. After identifying safety hazards such as loose rugs, precarious steps or poor lighting, the team will schedule visits for such light maintenance as installing grab bars, railings, or hallway lighting.

Last year, the organization impacted the lives of more than 7,000 seniors and their families.


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