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Groups working to keep seniors active during virus threat

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

Senior citizens make up one of the largest groups that is at most risk when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

Senior Connection in Clanton has been closed for some weeks now and will remain as such until authorities say it is OK to meet in groups again, per Director Vanessa McKinney.

Assisted living facilities like Hatley Health Care and the Gardens of Clanton are on lockdown, meaning only staff are allowed to come and go, no outside visitors at this time.

Since groups are not allowed to converge and visitors are not permitted in the buildings, staff at the assisted living facilities and individual seniors living on their own are working to keep entertained during these trying times.

McKinney said that she and other members of Senior Connection staff have been posting on social media in order to help stay in contact with members.

“Most of our members can still exercise and get outside,” McKinney said. “We all need to continue to exercise, because if you don’t use it, you do lose it.”

McKinney said members tend to like to do things like crossword puzzles and Sudoku to pass the time. She said she has been calling people to keep in touch and doing what she can if members have needs she can help out with.

“Everyone was sad the first few weeks (after closing Senior Connection), but they are becoming more upbeat as we adjust and this becomes the new normal. That’s everybody, not just seniors.”

McKinney said she had a new granddaughter born just a few months ago, and not being able to visit and “love on her” has been trying. That is something she is looking forward to once the virus concerns pass.

Activity Director Mechelle Jackson at Hatley Health Care in Clanton said members of staff are going outside and “acting a fool” outside residents’ windows in order to help entertain them and keep their spirits up.

She said families and other groups will meet with residents through their windows since they are not allowed inside the facility currently.

“We are filling the bird feeders, still having birthday party celebrations in rooms, having sing-alongs and having hallway bingo where residents can sit in their doorway and play along,” Jackson said.

Jackson said Walmart in Clanton donated lots of flowers and a “wagon full” of activities like craft ideas for the seniors to help brighten their day. She said they also brought things like stress balls and other supplies for the seniors.

“It was a big blessing,” Jackson said.

She said they everyone at Hatley is maintaining their social distancing in order to help make sure no illness is spread among the residents.

Gardens of Clanton Administrator Vickie Moseley said her residents are doing the same thing.

“We are on 24/7 lockdown, so our residents are mostly staying in their rooms,” she said. “They can come out two at a time or three if they are out in the yard. We are trying to make their day as good as possible.”

Moseley said Gardens is keeping up sanitizing everything and taking everyone’s temperature both in the morning and at night to make sure no one is running a fever.

Moseley said families and other groups have met with residents through windows and via video apps like FaceTime.

“We have planted flowers outside, and we have been playing bingo and exercising in the halls (with residents staying in their doorways). We are doing what we can to love on them and make them smile.”

Moseley said different restaurants have donated meals or other items to the residents, including Hickory Chip, McDonald’s and Dari Delite.

She said Sunshine Assembly of God recently put a sign in the yard at the Gardens wishing everyone well and telling the caregivers they are in everyone’s prayers.

While many people are staying in during the coronavirus pandemic, one thing they can do to pass the time is take part in the 2020 Census.

As of March 28, the national self-response to the Census was 33.1%, the state self-response was 34.3% and the response in Chilton County was 34.6%, according to County Administrator Sylvia Singleton.

Singleton encourages all residents who have not yet participated in the Census to do so.

“We need all the help we can get regarding representation and funding,” she said.