MidMissouri is a hub for senior services

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COLUMBIA - Several agencies in Columbia are focused on providing support and services for seniors, a population that can often face isolation. 

Jean Leonatti, CEO of the Central Missouri Agency on Aging, says this issue of isolation can be dangerous for seniors.

"Older people experience a lot of loss in their life, it might be their spouse, friends, children, jobs and that can result in depression and anxiety," said Leonatti. "When those really begin to blossom people start isolating themselves and then that makes those problems even worse."

Leonatti says recent research shows the detrimental effects of isolation on health, and encourages older people to focus on staying active in their communities and taking up hobbies. 

"We need to encourage people to get out, to stay involved, and to take that step," said Leonatti. She suggests community classes, volunteer work, or simply taking a walk. 

The CMAAA hosts 31 senior centers in the Mid-Missouri area, which offer meals and social activies as well as resources. You can find details and locations on the agency's website

Leonatti also said that many seniors face obstacles in staying independent and remaining in their homes instead of moving. She said taking advantage of community resources and help can prolong independence. 

"Sometimes if you accept a little bit of help along the way, you're able to stay in that home so much longer rather than to just say no," she said.

Services for Independent Living is an agency located in Columbia that helps seniors remain independent. They offer rides, counseling, snow shoveling services, and grocery shopping assistance. 

Christine Fouts is a volunteer coordinator for SIL. 

"We have a dedicated case manager who visits with folks at least once a month and helps them with things that are beyond their scope. Maybe they need help applying and reapplying for food stamps or they need help finding a dentist or they need help with health literacy type of things," said Fouts.

SIL is currently looking for volunteers to shovel driveways and sidewalks for seniors, a step in preventing isolation and making sure caregivers can access seniors' homes safely. 

"We have people who definitely rely on our organization and our volunteers," said Fouts. "A lot of people, they don't have family support, their family lives out of town, or their spouse passed away. Maybe they used to know everyone in their neighborhood but everyone has since moved and now their neighbors are just people they maybe haven't met and they don't come out of their house very often."S

SIL also helps seniors rent out durable medical equipment at no cost.