By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hospitals are not always safe or friendly to senior citizens — but a local program is aimed at changing that.

When seniors are hospitalized studies show their mental health can be negatively affected and they can feel isolated when few visitors come to call. Crozer-Keystone Health System has set up a team of volunteers to keep older patients from slipping, according to Volunteer Director Janet Kalup.

“The volunteer role is to be a companion. It’s just for the patient to have a more pleasant and personal experience by providing a one on one socialization,” Kalup said. “This can consist of activities of solving puzzles, playing card games a volunteer reading them the newspaper.”

The Friendly Visitor sessions last as long as the volunteer and patient decide.

“Honestly, it all depends on how long the patient wants to talk to the volunteer,” Kalup explained. “They could be there for a half-hour or 15 minutes. It all depends on how much the volunteer and patient engage.”

Kalup says the program will eventually be found in all of the system’s hospitals.

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