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America's Only Accredited Crisis Line For Seniors In Financial Straits

A California-based toll-free crisis line for seniors is having a crisis of its own.

The Friendship Line, a service of the Institute on Aging, has lost two-thirds of its funding due to state budget cuts.

Launched in 1973, the crisis line is staffed by mental health clinicians and specially-trained volunteers. They offer comfort and support to older adults and disabled seniors who feel lonely, isolated, even suicidal.


Founder and program director Patrick Arbore said staff not only receive calls, but also make them.

“We call out to people who are often by themselves, living alone," Arbore said. "And we are very interested, in giving them a sense of connectedness.”

Arbore said seniors tend to share some common concerns, such as loneliness, bereavement and chronic illnesses.

The Friendship Line logs about 10,000 calls a month. In 2014, 3,189 calls came from seniors in San Diego County.

The Friendship Line is facing a $700,000 shortfall, the bulk of its $1 million budget. The service has launched an Internet-based crowdfunding campaign to help fill the gap.