The twice weekly lunches at the Abington Senior Center have stopped for now, as have the card games, knitting groups and yoga classes. But the Council on Aging and its staff continues delivering needed services to the town’s seniors.
“We’re not sitting around playing cards, we’re ready to go,” said Abington Council on Aging Director Suzanne Djusberg.
Following recommendations from state and town health officials, the Senior Center closed to group activities on March 18 in an effort to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the center’s work has continued, including the Meals on Wheels program, transportation to medical appointments, and helping with questions about fuel assistance and Medicare.
The council’s Meals on Wheels program delivers a meal to 32 Abington homebound seniors daily. To reduce the chance of contamination, volunteers now leave the meals outside seniors’ doors. It’s a disappointing policy change, but one that’s needed to protect both the volunteers and seniors.
“It’s sad because the volunteers have relationships with these seniors,” said Djusberg. “But what we’re finding is that the seniors are good at following the rules and staying inside. They don’t want to give the volunteers anything they will bring back to their homes.”
Djusberg said her team is making extra efforts to check in regularly with the town’s seniors, even if it’s just a quick phone call. And with many seniors heeding warnings to stay inside, Djusberg said her team is delivering extra items to seniors when possible, such as packages containing personal care items and non-perishable food. And last week, Martin’s Bakery donated several dozens of eggs and loaves of bread that were then delivered to seniors in need.
So far, the council has been able to meet the needs of the town’s seniors. Djusberg said she is familiar with the town’s generosity but that she isn’t asking people to drop off donations — for now. If the social distancing precautions linger on keeping more seniors homebound, Djusberg said she will be sure to raise her hand as needs arise.
“When I really need something, I’ll throw it out on Facebook,” she said.
Djusberg gave credit to Abignton Town Manager Rick LaFond for allowing her to buy water filters for any senior who wants one, instead of trying to carry a case of bottled water into their home.
Jack Libby, chairman of the Abington Council on Aging, said the seniors he has heard from are doing pretty well, if not a bit bored. “We’re encouraging people to stay home and follow the rules,” Libby said. “If they do have questions, they do have a telephone number they can call.”
The economic slowdown hasn’t spared the town’s working seniors, resulting in an increased demand for help from council staff in applying for assistance programs, such as food stamps. Djusberg said her team is available for any Abington resident facing unemployment who has questions about available assistance.
Although her team continues to work out of the senior center, Djusberg said anyone with questions or in need of assistance should call instead of stopping by in person.
The Council on Aging’s main phone number is: (781) 982-2145