As a way to keep seniors engaged and connected with the community amid the pandemic, area senior centers and living facilities are continuing to offer programming in unique ways.
Meriden Senior Center
The center has continued to offer essential medical transportation by adopting COVID-19 protocols.
“Knowing our seniors here in Meriden and knowing some of the health situations that they are in, we decided to continue that,” said Rick Liegl, senior affairs administrator.
Craft projects are delivered to seniors every other week by bus or email. Car parades have taken place and meals are being delivered to seniors in need.
“We’ve modified our recreation programs and those who are receiving them really do enjoy them and when someone is delivering an activity book or a meal, that is a point of contact for that senior to engage with a staff person, someone that they know,” Liegl said.
Wallingford Senior Center
As of Dec. 21, the Senior Center building is closed again due to the rising number of coronavirus cases. It will remain closed at least through Jan. 19.
“Staff is here, we’re answering the phones, we’re trying to help people, our social worker returns calls to people who need assistance,” said Senior Center Executive Director Bill Viola.
Transportation is still provided for medical appointments and shopping.
With the center closed, programming is online only.
“We’ve had quite good numbers of people on the Zooms and the Facebook lives for our different classes, concerts, exercise classes, informational programming, different things like that,” Viola said.
Silver Springs Care Center, Meriden
Silver Springs has continued some programs amid the pandemic, including a coffee cart and activity cart that includes books, magazines, word games and puzzles.
There are also two stores for residents — a weekly dollar store and a soda and snack store.
“We pass out order sheets with a list of items available for residents to choose from, collect the order sheets, fill and deliver the orders to residents,” said Christine D’Amico, facility recreation manager.
All residents received presents on Christmas Eve.
Each day the center offers programming via TV.
“Each day we play a positive vibes/sensory DVD, movies, music and chair exercise DVDs — Salsa, Tai Chi, boxing, dancing, Yoga,” D’Amico said.
Outdoor programs are offered when the weather allows.
Cheshire Senior Center
To keep the seniors connected, the center has been offering virtual programs on topics like yoga and books.
“Because the programs oftentimes turn into an open forum, it gives people the opportunity to communicate with each other on Zoom and feel connected to a group,” said Stefanie Theroux, coordinator of senior services
Transportation services are also available for medical appointments, grocery shopping and pharmacy trips.
Earlier this year, the senior center worked with Youth Services to start a telephone outreach program.
“Youth volunteers are making at minimum, monthly calls to over 2,500 seniors in the community to check in on them to help them continue to feel connected to the center,” Theroux said.
Last month, the center did a grab and go luncheon in collaboration with other organizations.
“Free lasagna lunches were made available to 100 seniors in the community and the program was then followed by a holiday Zoom concert,” Theroux said.
Elim Park, Cheshire
Elim Park offers also offers programs over TV.
“We created our own in-house TV station called 1960 EPTV and we have everything from exercise classes to how to manipulate your iPhone,” said Brian Bedard, president and CEO.
Along with that, Elim Park set up visitation stations in garages and outdoors and utilized Zoom and other technology so residents could stay connected.
“What I learned is the value of relationships,” Bedard said. “... If you think about some of the best times you’ve had, it may not actually be doing something with your best friend, it may just be being with your best friend.”
By realizing this, Bedard said the roles of the Elim Park staff changed from caregivers to friends.
“They couldn’t see their own family,” Bedard said. “As a result of the pandemic, everybody is a little more restricted, but because we were testing our staff once and sometimes twice weekly, we were able to create safer interactions between staff and residents.”