Rosemary Kofler: Older residents in good hands at Amherst Senior Center

Thursday, May 07, 2020

On a typical day the Amherst Senior Center had been a beehive of activity as upwards of 100 people each day came to the center to receive services, attend educational classes, participate in exercise, yoga, dancing, or tai chi, play chess or other games or just stop in for a cup of coffee and some socialization.

That all changed suddenly when the Senior Center closed its doors to the public on March 12 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health of elders, the most vulnerable age group. However, not many realize the high level of activity and good work that still goes on behind those closed doors. The staff and volunteers work tirelessly to support the seniors in town and those who are most vulnerable.

Social workers continue their work from home and maintain phone consultations. Volunteers help to make 345 well-being calls to elders at risk. Nutritional support has tripled since March 12. In the last month alone 1,675 meals were delivered to those in need, 80 bags of food were delivered to seniors’ homes, 22 emergency food pantry bags and 86 heavy boxes of food were delivered by 32 volunteers. Any senior can get a free take-out lunch by calling 259-3164. Free hand-sewn masks are also available for seniors by calling 259-3114.

Yoga instructors and exercise teachers are making it possible for seniors to continue to stay active by making their classes available on video. The caretakers and grief support groups will begin to meet online, and UMass psychological services for older adults will soon offer an online group on boosting resilience. For more information about online support groups or the Resiliency Group, call 259-3114.

All of these measures are helpful to older people who are already at risk for social isolation and loneliness. The community can be grateful that the staff at the Amherst Senior Center is reaching out to help people 60 and older during these challenging times.

Rosemary Kofler