October 22, 2021

Aging agency working to create programs

But there is no word yet on when senior centers in county will reopen

seniors feeding duck illustration

With the Cortland County senior centers closed since March 17 and unsure of when they will open, the Area Agency on Aging is working to develop activities seniors can participate in at home, including starting a pen pal program.

“The agency is actively recruiting volunteers who wish to write,” said Elizabeth Haskins, the agency director.

The program, called Pen Friends, is just one of the many ways the agency is trying to reach out to seniors and keep them busy while continuing to have conversations with the state on when the senior centers might open.

To learn more

Here’s how to connect with the Area Agency on Aging online:
Website: www.cortland-co.org/434/Area-Agency-on-Aging
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ CCAreaAgencyonAging/
Twitter: twitter.com/CortlandAAA
Instagram: www.instagram.com/cortlandaaa/
Become a Pen Friend:
Contact the Area Agency on Aging at 607-753-5060

“At this time, some counties are looking possibly to the fall — if at all — due to the high-risk population the Area Agencies on Aging serve and procedural changes needed as a requirement to open,” Haskin said.

In the meantime, the agency calls to check on seniors, continues to deliver meals and heavily uses social media to share information. It’s considering podcasts on public education, health and wellness activities and Zoom social hours.

Nancy Albro has been attending the senior center at the County Office Building for a couple years and wasn’t aware the agency was doing any outreach online. She said she’s been spending her time volunteering for the Red Cross, seeking volunteers to help with blood donations. She’s also got a list of other seniors she’s been calling to check in on.

She said everyone she’s checked in on is doing well.

“We’re a hardy bunch,” she said.

However, they are anxious to get trips they had planned rescheduled and see each other again.

“There’s a connection there with each other,” she said. “We have good times together, it’s one big family.”

Sharon Lanphear has been doing Jazzercise and calling friends from the center to stay busy.

“There are so many of them that are up in age, I worry about them, but we keep in touch,” she said.

Not having the centers open has caused her life to slow and while she misses being able to go on center-organized trips, she’s noticed many things around her house that she wants to get done.

“I didn’t realize I had so many things to accomplish in my own home,” she said.

She said the Pen Friends program is really neat and almost like how she adopted a Homer student who was graduating.

She’s not sure what the future will bring for the center, but she’s happy the agency is trying.

“They’re top dollar,” she said. “They’re doing everything they possibly can.”