The Institute on Aging, a nonprofit organization that provides services for older adults living at home, and adults living with disabilities, is teaming up with the California Department of Aging to better support lonely and isolated seniors across the state.

The state will provide funding for a toll-free “Friendship Line California” telephone service, to be operated by the San Francisco-based Institute on Aging, that seniors can call when they are feeling lonely, scared or confused.

The Institute on Aging already operates a “Friendship Line,” a 24-hour toll-free crisis line for older adults and adults living with disabilities. It also serves as a “warm” line offering emotional support to seniors who need someone to talk to.

Both the new Friendship Line California (888-670-1360) and the established Institute on Aging Friendship Line (800-971-0016) will take inbound calls, as well as offer scheduled outbound call service. Both lines will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Initially, Friendship Line California will be staffed by nearly two dozen staff members, many of whom previously worked for the Alzheimer’s Association. All were trained for their new role by the Institute on Aging.

“We want to give the state of California credit for recognizing the deep impact of the pandemic on isolated, older adults, as well as the extraordinary risks and challenges that these circumstances present to this particular subset,” said Dustin Harper, chief strategy officer for the Institute on Aging.

Kim McCoy Wade, director of the state Department of Aging, noted that “Older adults are heroes for being the first in California to stay at home, but they can’t risk falling into social isolation while in physical isolation.”

“We want make it easy for older adults to dial the Friendship Line California at any time – to have a friendly conversation, when they are feeling a little lonely, or when in crisis – and help them continue to stay home while also staying connected in the tough and uncertain months ahead.”