While Wyoming COVID-19 Coronavirus public-health orders have become less restrictive, more places, including the Golden Hour Senior Center (GHSC) and the Young at Heart Senior Citizens and Community Center (YHSC), are starting to reopen.
Even though both senior centers have started to offer limited-attendance activities, neither center’s representatives are sure when they will completely reopen.
For now, GHSC senior citizens will have the opportunity to play bingo, a hands-free card game and chair yoga, according to GHSC Executive Director Jackie Grubb.
“We haven’t been able to do any games where they have to touch things,” Grubb said.
This is why most of the traditional card games and other activities aren’t allowed yet, Grubb explained.
“We just have three different times a day that we have open when the patrons can come in for activities and we’re only allowing 10 patrons in at a time for those activities right now,” Grubb said. “It’s pretty much limited at the moment.”
Activities Coordinator and facilities secretary Jamie Loredo said YHSC is offering various activities for its seniors, but they too are limited.
At the YHSC, seniors can participate in pool, painting, Taking Off Pounds Sensibly meetings, stretch and more classes, crafts, quilting, and breakfast club, which has turned into a discussion group since they no longer eat breakfast.
For pool, only two players are allowed in the pool room at a time and they must play at different pool tables.
“As employees here at the center, we are taking a lot of extra precautions,” Loredo said. “We go through the entire building and we wipe down the entire building.”
Loredo said these cleanings take place about every two hours and the employees make sure to wipe down high-touch areas.
Like the GHSC, the YHSC is also allowing for extra time in between activities to make sure they have enough time to sanitize everything.
At both centers, face masks and physical distancing is required.
Due to all of the precautions and the COVID-19 pandemic, at first, seniors were reluctant to sign up and attend activities, Grubb said.
“They were a little nervous about coming in, but it’s definitely been picking up steam and now we have 20 people signing up and we’ve had to definitely restrict some of that,” Grubb said.
For GHSC, all activities are completed in the dining room so the center can ensure physical distancing is in place. Grubb said each table is allowed to have two seniors sitting at it.
To make sure only 10 seniors participate in the activity, seniors must sign up in advance at both facilities. However, at GHSC, Grubb said if a senior wants to sign up with a friend and sit at the same table, they can do that.
If more than 10 seniors sign up for an activity, then 10 names are randomly selected and that’s who will attend that activity, Grubb said.
The YHSC, they are also making sure they adhere to the 10 person recommendation.
“That’s why we haven’t had super high attendance numbers,” Loredo said.
The Benefits of Resuming Activities
Both Grubb and Loredo know how important socialization is for senior citizens.
“We know that social isolation is something that’s pretty detrimental to a senior citizens’ health, not only mentally, but also it can be detrimental to their physical health,” Grubb said. “One of the most beneficial things that we can do is to get them back together in group.”
She said often times seniors live alone and don’t have a family unit. They have been isolating at home for a long period of time alone. On top of this, a lot of the seniors don’t know how to use social media to communicate with others.
“We have a lot of people that come here on a daily basis before COVID happened. They would come every single day almost like it was their job.”~Jamie Loredo
“It’s a special place that the seniors in the community can come to and have that socialization they might not get on a regular basis outside of here,” Loredo said. “I think it’s very important for us to continue having these activities for them.”
Continuing Curbside Meals
Both centers will continue to provide curbside meals.
Grubb said their program has just taken off, showing just how important the program really is. She said this has showed the employees at GHSC just how much food and security means to its seniors. She said for a lot of the seniors this is the only time they leave the house and it’s something they look forward to.
Loredo said they are continuing this service since they cannot reopen fully yet. She said those who would like a meal must call before 9 am on the day they would like to pick up a meal.
When Will They Reopen
“We’re keeping a really good eye on it because obviously we see that cases in our county are not stable at the moment,” Grubb said.
Even though both Loredo and Grubb know how important socialization is for their seniors, they would not want to do anything to put them at risk. A lot of the seniors have health conditions that already put them at a higher risk level.
“We’re really being very cautious especially in the area of bringing large group together for something like lunch where they would have to take their masks off and be closer,” Grubb said.
This is something that also concerns Loredo.
For now, both senior centers are doing the best they can to provide seniors with some sort of socialization opportunities because both Grubb and Loredo know just how important it is to them.
Grubb and Loredo agreed they need to just take things day by day and wait and see what the county, the state, and the country is doing in regards to COVID-19 recommendations. Until they know for sure it’s safe for their seniors, they will not completely reopen.