By MaryAnne Beatty
Each New Year, we tend to take stock of our accomplishments and to consider ways to enjoy life and new experiences in the months ahead. As aging adults, we may need to think about what services and or programs are available within the city to help keep us independent and engaged in the community, or perhaps you know of a neighbor or friend who needs some help.
Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA) has been serving older adults for over 50 years, focusing on four main areas: Nutrition, Transportation, Community, and Information and Education. Here is a short overview of some of the ways SSA helps Alexandria’s older adults enjoy all that our area has to offer and remain healthy and secure in their homes.
Proper nutrition is always important, but it is critical as we get older to keep our body and minds healthy. SSA has a few programs that might help those having a difficult time getting healthy meals. The Meals on Wheels (MOWs) program, in partnership with the City of Alexandria’s Division of Aging and Adult Services, provides two nutritious meals – one hot and one cold – to homebound people 60 and older who reside in the City of Alexandria. Meals are delivered by dedicated volunteers 365 days a year. There are two ways to participate—one subsidized by the City for homebound older adults, and a self-pay program for those who need extra support due to chronic medical conditions or as a short-term measure when recovering from surgery. The cost is $10 per day.
Groceries to Go is for residents 60+ who still enjoy cooking, but find grocery shopping difficult. Volunteers call clients to get their grocery orders, deliver the groceries to the client’s home, and help put away the groceries as needed. The only cost is the price of the groceries. Seniors can choose to receive groceries from either Giant or Safeway and to get deliveries every other week.
The Friendly Visitor Program is designed to enhance quality of life for seniors in the City of Alexandria by providing social interaction, mental stimulation, and emotional support. Carefully screened and trained volunteers are individually matched with socially isolated seniors living in assisted living and health care communities or in their own homes, condos, or apartments. Once a volunteer is paired with a senior who has similar interests and life experiences, the volunteer visits their senior for an hour each week. Over 300 matches have been made since the program began in 2012.
SSA manages the DOT Paratransit program call center, which allows residents of any age who are living with a disability to reserve taxi rides within five miles of the city limits for just $3, and to Fairfax or Arlington Counties for only $5. There is no limit on the number of trips or destinations. Applications are processed by the City’s Transportation Office and must be completed by a medical professional. Reservations must be submitted 24 hours in advance for this efficient and economical transportation option.
Information and Outreach
SSA has an extensive Information and Outreach program, which includes 22 Senior Information Corners located in libraries, recreation centers, and other community centers where literature is posted about upcoming events and services available to older adults. The monthly Speaker Series focuses on important topics such as caregiving, technology, housing, health, and legal issues. SSA also coordinates several social programs, including a monthly Coffee Connection where people gather for free coffee, conversation, and a short program. Local tours of historic Alexandria properties take place every month, as well as a Creative Connection program that brings in local artistic groups for programs held at Beatley Central Library.
So start 2020 off with a New Year’s resolution to see which SSA programs might enhance your daily life or provide you with a meaningful way to volunteer. To learn more, go to www.seniorservicesalex.org or call 703-836-4414 extension 110.