Town of Pittsford: Seniors need help finding resources, social interaction amid winter, pandemic

Healthy Seniors

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — Seniors have been facing isolation all throughout the pandemic – but even more so during the winter months. Many aren’t aware of the resources available to them in their own backyard. The Town of Pittsford wants to step up their outreach for seniors in the area to let them know they don’t have to be alone in these times.

Ron Anderson is a widower – so having a community that’s a part of his daily routine is essential. He’s been a part of the senior center activities for over 15 years. But the community he’s used to at Pittsford Senior Center looks different right now with the pandemic.

“Where we’re standing right now there’d be people here doing a jigsaw puzzle, they’d be sitting here doing cards, reading newspapers, next door they’d be preparing for a big lunch,” he said.

And keeping in touch with everyone through technology, can be a challenge for Ron and his friends.

“I am semi-computer literate I don’t like zoom,” he said with a laugh.

Program staff say there are still some in-person activities like dance and balance classes – as well as virtual activities like choir and book clubs. But attendance is down for both. And a time like this is where those social interactions are needed the most, staff say.

“Right now the connection we have with them is very important,” said director of senior programs Dolores Decoste.

Stephanie Townsend is a board member in the Town of Pittsford. She hopes that outreach in the form of a quick phone call check-in, or a few minutes of chit chat at the center’s grab and go lunches – will help educate seniors on ways they can be involved, and also just offer that social interaction.

“This kind of outreach is critical – to let them know we are a community, that we are here for them,” Townsend said. “There’s been a lot of isolation for this age group. These resources are important at all times and especially now that the pandemic has made seniors more vulnerable health wise,” she said.

“For the wellness calls I’ve made at least 200,” said Decoste. “Some calls last a half hour, they are lonesome, they want to come back,” she said.

While vaccine distribution continues to playout and society gets closer to herd immunity, seniors like Ron are eagerly waiting for the center to feel like normal again.

“I’d have a void in my life without the senior center, it’s a very important part of my life … this a special place, special people very important to me,” he said.

The Senior Center has a few partnerships for resources they provide, like Lifespan and Elderberry Express.

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