Extra help is being extended to local seniors.


For many living during the pandemic, social isolation has been a new experience. For senior citizens, social isolation isn’t necessarily anything new. Due to Covid it has become challenging to safely visit elderly relatives and friends. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, before the pandemic one fourth of adults over 65 are considered socially isolated. 

Dr. Sarah Graff, a psychiatry resident at Coliseum Medical Centers, said the isolation these seniors face can affect their health.

“Increased loneliness correlates with increased rates of depression, and overall negative health outcomes because depression is linked to cardiovascular risks, dementia risks, and also the increased isolation brings down people’s activities level,” Graff said.

Many Middle Georgia organizations are going above and beyond since most loved ones can’t visit their elderly family members.

Susan Gregory, Executive Director of Middle Georgia Meals on Wheels, said the organization has been expanding their help to seniors. 

“We also started a supplemental grocery program because so many seniors are now homebound due to covid who were not before,” Gregory said. 

The organization has also created a volunteer chat line where volunteers call seniors daily. They have also delivered cards to seniors written by local Girl Scout troops. 

Gregory said that the work is hard but rewarding.

“There are days where you ask ‘Whats next?’ You know, we’ve had people pass away from Covid, it’s really kind of a surreal time,” she said.

Meals on Wheels has changed from daily deliveries to weekly deliveries due to the pandemic, but Gregory is proudof the services they continue to provide.

“We’ve been deemed essential from the beginning, and have not wavered from that,” she said.

While Meals on Wheels has been able to expand their services, other organizations have had to drastically change theirs. 

Julie Hall, Director of Aging for the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, said that Covid-19 has caused the Area Agency on Aging to close their senior centers and put programming online.

“Senior centers are reaching out to the clients that would normally attend the senior center and doing either YouTube videos, or telephoning in and doing conference calls with them,” Hall said. 

Instead of canceling future events, the agency is working to convert them into socially distanced events for the seniors. The agency has converted its seniors’ farmer’s market into a drive through. 

While Middle Georgia organizations are working hard to provide more help, Graff believes family members can help their elderly loved ones as well.

“My recommendation is making sure that their family has a daily call or weekly call with them,” Graff said. 

She also stresses the importance of seniors making sure they stimulate their cognition with things like sudoku. 

Visiting an elderly relative is possible as well. While nothing beats a grandparent’s hug, Graff said making sure your visit is socially distanced is important.

“You can totally go visit grandma or grandpa and sit out on the porch with a mask,” Graff said.