Before COVID, I often found it challenging to carve out time for my elderly relatives and friends. Life moves too fast, there was always something that needed my attention, and time would get away from me. But once the pandemic started and I understood how at risk those dear people were, I deeply regretted not making more of an effort when I could. I did lose one of my elderly friends, but my older relatives have happily stayed healthy.
The pandemic forced many people to choose physical health over human connections and mental wellness, and as a result, many elderly people have been left lonely and alone. This week, I learned about the Selfhelp Virtual Senior Center’s efforts to combat that loneliness. Volunteers host hour-long virtual classes for seniors. The classes are on a wide variety of interests from current events discussions and entertainment-based programs like music, art, and cooking to health and wellness programs including gentle exercise, nutrition, and laughing yoga (I need to do that!). They even have self-help-style programs covering topics like how to have productive conversations with doctors. The Selfhelp Community Services organization is best known for its programs for North America-based Holocaust survivors, so they’ve got plenty of experience with programming for the elderly.
“Just as the Virtual Senior Center offers emotional and physical health benefits to participants, volunteer facilitators become part of our community and learn from our clients as well. We’ve learned the importance of strong online communities and are grateful for the work of our volunteers to make the VSC a vibrant community, especially throughout Covid.”– Sandy Myers, Selfhelp Community Services