The pandemic has forced many senior citizens into situations that can be very lonely. However, area volunteers and members of Community Outreach at Candlewood Valley Health and Rehabilitation have developed programs to keep seniors connected and socially active to combat feeling of isolation. The programs are all done via Zoom to keep everyone safe and healthy, and there are a variety of types to choose from including educational, health related and crafting programs.
“During the current COVID-19 pandemic it has been a challenge for community seniors to stay connected. They have been so isolated and in need of not only the basics like food and transportation, but also in need of human interaction and activities to keep their days filled with something other than concern and worry,” says Melissa Marici, Director of Community Outreach at Candlewood Valley Health and Rehabilitation (C.V.H.R.).
“In reaction to the two week lockdown, that has now grown into more than half of a year of staying home for many seniors, creativity has been key to developing programs to help lift spirits and keep our community connected,” says David Segal, Administrator, CVHR. “Through our programs such as the grocery wish lists, craft bags, health packs, activity boxes, grab & go lunches, and educational and fun zoom classes, we have been able to offer seniors throughout our surrounding communities a way to feel connected and a reason to shower-up and pop into their car or tune into a Zoom program,” he says.
Diane Bryant, Zoom participant, “I’ve been listening in on many of the Zoom videos. I mostly do it because I can’t stand being alone anymore. At first, I only knew how to call in from my phone, which was fine. I would just listen in. Then the woman at CVHR taught me how to use the video. It’s so easy I can’t believe I was afraid to do it. Now I have my new friends and I have been on their cooking zoom and the crafting zooms. I’m looking forward to the one where the police detective will teach seniors how not to get scammed.”
Irene Hanley, President of the Tribury Rotary of Woodbury-Southbury-Middlebury stated, “During the COVID-19 crisis, we teamed up with CVHR to develop community enriching programs. Immediately, we began co-sponsoring CVHR’s ZOOM programs that covered an array of interesting and educational topics ranging from health education and Alzheimer’s support groups, to a variety of seminars such as “Benefits of Acupuncture”, “How Not to Get Scammed”, and “How to Style Your Home for the Holidays”. All the programs are presented by specialists in their fields such as cardiologists, detectives, interior designers, artists, life coaches, and psychologists. They provide a way for seniors, as well as younger community members, to feel connected and to learn new things together. We are finding that new friendships are blooming, and existing relationships are being kept close within these ZOOM sessions. We will continue to work together for as long as COVID-19 safety guidelines are in place—and hopefully thereafter too.”
“Volunteers have been essential to executing many of these newly developed programs,” says a Linda Frame, an outreach volunteer who helped with the very first COVID-19 “Health & Happiness Care Pack” initiative at CVHR. “CVHR just didn’t have the staffing to keep up with the initial care package program that was offered to all seniors centers, adult day care centers and community-based organizations serving seniors within a 15 mile radius of CVHR in New Milford. Within 30 days our volunteer team, called “SOS” for Senior Outreach Squad, helped to assemble and deliver 1,000 care packages to senior facilities and we matched that number the following month!”
Josie Barrett says, “I live at Butter Brook, which is a senior living apartment complex in New Milford, CT, and I received that first Health & Happiness package. It had a mask, cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, juice, snack food and other fun items like an adult coloring book and a crossword puzzle. When I called to express my appreciation for the package, I also offered my help with future programs. I’m now an official SOS volunteer at CVHR and it’s as rewarding as it is meaningful work. Every day we strive to make life for our community seniors safer, healthier, happier, more exciting, and more engaging”
For information on any of CVHR’s community outreach programs, contact Melissa Marici at 860-355-0971 ext. 11 or email email@example.com.