Checking in on Seniors During the Holidays!

Friendly Visitor Pair – Kerry and Gertrude. Courtesy photo

By MaryAnne Beatty

There is a lot of pressure on people to enjoy themselves during the holidays. The reality, however, is that many people feel increasingly isolated and unhappy during this season of goodwill, and seniors can have an especially hard time. This happens for a variety of reasons: loved ones live far away and friends fall sick and pass away. Neighborhoods change over time, leaving even those well enough to remain in their own homes feeling lonely. As you think about holiday plans, remember to keep in mind the seniors in your lives—your neighbor or someone you encounter during the course of your day.

If they seem lonely or might need some help with basic needs, remember what Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA) has to offer.

Food nutrition is one of the most important things to keep seniors feeling well by relieving the anxiety of how to get the shopping completed and cooking every night. SSA delivers Meals on Wheels 365 days a year, including holidays. The meals are delivered by volunteers who really care about older adults who face isolation and loneliness. This simple act of delivering a hot meal can brighten up a senior’s day. They get to know the volunteers and look forward to receiving their meal with a smile.

For older adults who still like to cook, but find shopping difficult, the Groceries to Go program might be the perfect solution. Volunteers phone the clients and take their grocery order, shop and deliver the groceries. They can help seniors put away the groceries, chat for a bit and see how they are doing. This program is so helpful for those seniors who may not use a computer to order their groceries online, or may find the delivery fees and minimum orders of other programs outside their budget.

For socially isolated seniors, SSA has a Friendly Visitor Program that pairs volunteers with older adults for weekly visits. This might include playing a game or cards, reading or just talking about events of the day. These are social visits, based on what works best for both the schedules of the senior and their volunteer, and the pairs are matched based on similar interests. Lasting friendships have been formed through this program.

Finding reliable transportation can be an impediment for seniors to be able to get out of their homes. The DOT Para-Transit program offers seniors with a disability discounted taxi fares around the City of Alexandria and surrounding counties. The application process is very simple and there is no income threshold to qualify.

If you know of a senior who could use a little boost, check out SSA’s website at www.seniorservicesalex.org to find out more about our programs or call the office at 703-836-4414, ext. 110.

The City of Alexandria’s Division of Aging and Adult Services also provides services and programs for seniors who may need a little more assistance. For more information about what the City offers, visit their website at alexandriava.gov/aging.