Before COVID-19, the six Centre County senior centers were a place for older adults to get together and spend some time with each other. Many who regularly attended thought of each other as “family.”
But with state regulations due to COVID-19 causing all the centers to shut down for the past two months, many seniors have had no place to go to feel that connection. With the pandemic leaving older people especially vulnerable, seniors still needed a place where they could talk and connect with friends and find resources.
Vickey Confer, director of the Bellefonte Senior Resource Center, said the staff and volunteers at the center are working hard to keep their clients connected, from daily phone calls to playing games on Zoom, the center is using all the resources it can to help.
“It is important,” said Confer. “Many of our seniors live alone and it can be challenging.”
She said that many of the clients she spoke to are so lonely and bored that they take long drives to pass the time. Phone calls and connecting online can help fill the void.
The Centre County Senior Center Coalition website is updated often with games, jokes, trivia questions and more to help provide seniors with something to do.
Confer said many of the people who regularly attend the center are still looking for ways to pass the time, so Confer’s team is working to provide connections via Zoom so people can reach out to one another.
“We are exploring how to use Zoom to play games with each other such as a scavenger hunt around the house,” said Confer. “Scattergories and Pictionary by Zoom.”
Ridgelines, a local nonprofit, is connecting seniors with poetry pen pals, giving them a chance to explore their creative side and express themselves.
“We are exploring ways to have a virtual group tea/coffee and chatter. Many of my participants have expressed how much they miss the centers and seeing their ‘family’ and can’t wait to get back together,” said Confer.
“They appreciate the calls we are making to them and appreciate us keeping them up-to-date on everyone. Many are staying in contact with each other by phone or Facebook … some by Facetime.”