Volunteer Julia Torrano helps Estelle Day, 79, style her hair while she’s a patient at UCLA Medical Center. – Ina Jaffe/NPR
“Loneliness can be a problem for older people, especially when they’re in the hospital. Their children may have moved away. Spouses and friends may themselves be too frail to visit. So a California hospital is providing volunteer companions in the geriatric unit.
“One of the volunteers at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica is 24-year-old Julia Torrano. She hopes to go to medical school. Meanwhile, her twice-weekly volunteer shifts give her a lot of practice working with patients.
“One of them is Estelle Day. She’s 79 years old, a slender woman with a wild mane of hair that is still mostly red. Torrano peppers her with questions.
“Where were you originally from?” asks Torrano. Day replies that she grew up on Long Island in New York. Torrano also wants to know how Day met her husband, where she learned to play the harp, where her travels have taken her.”