Make Her Home a Senior Center
Senior Centers in NYC are not open yet, why not recreate one at home for your Senior!
Most communities are opening up and access to entertainment, health, and culture are available now. Nonetheless, most seniors who live at home are still stuck at home with no place to go. Senior centers in NYC have not yet reopened and there are no plans to do so at this writing.
Moderate and low-income seniors especially rely on their local senior centers for socialization, meals, health screenings, exercise, cultural and arts activities, lectures, and outings. These vital hubs are critical for the elderly and had become their communities. The social networks within the senior centers have been a factor in the vibrancy of participants who receive mental health benefits from the caring social environments at the center.
The seniors who used to participate in senior centers have been isolated since the pandemic began. Many have suffered setbacks of both physical and mental health because of it. Many have not been able to access remote programming on zoom because of limited or no internet skills.
According to the latest city data, 63% of New Yorkers between the ages of 65 and 74 are fully vaccinated, as are 58% of people between the ages of 75 and 84, while a little under half of those 85 and up are fully vaccinated. Yet the NYC senior centers have only implemented grab and go meal service.
Pressure is mounting on local elected officials to resume in-person programming for seniors in many locales. Safety precautions will need to be implemented such as social distancing, mask wearing, and more.
In the interim what can a family do for a senior?
If there are means, take your senior out to a restaurant. Enroll her in a fitness studio. Accompany her to the movies. Go shopping for fun. Get her connected socially and out of the house.
For those whose means are more limited, creativity is needed. As the spring season continues, meeting friends in the park to see the flowers is a cheap option. Midday is best because morning routines are over with and the sun will warm her. They can bring their lunches along and call it a picnic. It takes organization, however, to get peers to come out at mutually convenient times. It also takes initiative and emotional energy to agree to or initiate such a get together. Someone who is mildly depressed after months in isolation will not be readily amenable to participate.
For someone like this, convening a party in her home for her with her friends is an option. Think about your recent Mother’s Day celebration with your mother and how much good it did for her. Try to think creatively how you can replicate that kind of outing/social occasion for her. If you enlist others, you can make it a biweekly event and others can be invited to join, each taking some responsibility for the planning and execution. One can be responsible for the confirmations. One can lead chair yoga on the park bench. Another participant can be responsible for the scheduling. One can take photos and share them later. Give it a fun name like the park powwow, the grand grandma get-together. If you give it excitement and do the startup work, others will catch the momentum and run with it.
Although the preparations to get your senior up and out of the house is substantial, bear in mind a few points. The mental health benefits will be significant. This is a short-term situation. Your parent will soon return to his senior center which will be up and running in-person programming within weeks or months. You are also showing your own children an important lesson in caring for a parent. Your effort will certainly reap long-term results when you age.