Local organizations meet needs of senior citizens

COLUMBIA - The COVID-19 pandemic has senior citizens stuck at home, but local organizations are stepping up to ensure they have the resources they need.

In Columbia, the Senior Activity Center usually provides a hot meal in their dining room every weekday. Due to the virus, the center’s dining room has closed. Now, the center is offering drive-up sack lunches as an alternative to keep its community fed.

“The significance is so that they do get the nutrition that they need,” volunteer Cecelia Davis said. “Any health issues, you have to eat, you have to have that fuel for your body for your body to fight off any infection you might get. So us having the lunches for them is just another way for us to make sure they stay healthy.”

Davis said that the center being closed and the need to distance herself from visitors has been difficult.

“I’m used to just being able to walk up to talk to people and shake their hands. And, I tend to be a hugger, so this is very hard for me,” she said. 

Davis stressed her concerns over senior citizens being home alone now. “It’s very hard being home every day, especially if you don’t have an activity that you can do at home,” she said. “It’s such an important part of staying healthy--not just your nutritional part, but your emotional part, too.”

Across town, volunteers with Services for Independent Living delivered groceries to the doorsteps of its clients Tuesday. Madison Anderson, volunteer coordinator for the organization, said those volunteers provide an invaluable service to senior citizens who want to stay indoors.

“That person going out who might have a better immune system or less of a risk, they can go out and do their grocery shopping for them while the senior can stay safely in their home and not be exposed to it,” she said.

Anderson said she is already hearing from potential clients who are reluctant to go grocery shopping because of the virus.

“There's definitely going to be a higher need of people needing to go to the grocery store. I do have a lot of people calling me and saying they don’t want to get out and they would like somebody to go for them,” she said.

Davis and Anderson are hopeful all operations can return to normal sometime this summer. They also both mentioned a direct relationship between the lack of social interaction and the negative impact it can have on the health of a senior citizen. In response, Davis suggested senior citizens can stay connected using their phones to combat that missing interaction.

“You can also pick up the phone and call somebody and just say ‘Hey, how are you?’ You can still have social contact, just not that face to face, but you can still have that friend to call,” Davis said.

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