By Roberto Muñiz
The global health pandemic has impacted so much of our world and communities, and not only in the ways you would think. I see the ripple effect it has had on seniors in our own local community. Important services to Elders have been interrupted or stopped, community senior centers closed for over a year and those who are most vulnerable have often become more at risk from the lack of these services in their communities through this pandemic.
Something must be done to help. At Parker we have been taking a good look at our community and asking, ‘Where can we make a difference?’ I am pleased to share some ideas we have come up while partnering with our neighbors at the City of New Brunswick.
We are happy to assist the city in bringing back one of their critical services, its Dial-A-Ride program, a program that helps over 2500 people a year. It provides seniors with rides to important medical and mental health visits, physical therapy sessions and social service appointments, which have been suspended during the pandemic. Vehicles for this service are now equipped with appropriate infection control systems and revised procedures are in place as the program has resumed. We have developed and funded a Virtual Vitality Program, which provides tablets to members of the New Brunswick Senior Community Resource Center allowing them to connect to programs, activities and services geared toward combating social isolation.
The Virtual Vitality Program is a similar concept as the one we have implemented to meet the needs of those who participate in Parker Adult Day Center and our Health and Wellness Center in Highland Park. Since those programs have been closed due to the pandemic, our teams have found ways to serve our participants at home. Adult Day at a Distance is a platform that adult day participants can take part in a number of activities from their own homes. Parker Virtual Health and Wellness program helps community members stay active by participating in our online classes and our Parker Rehab at Home services. Earlier this year we also launched one of our newest initiatives, the Parker Navigator Program, which helps elders connect with important resources in the community.
We are so passionate about extending help beyond those who live with us or participate in our programming, ensuring those who are aging in our community are living their best life, despite the circumstances and challenges of this pandemic.
Do you see a need in your community? How can you help to fulfill it? It may not be the way help was provided in the past, but one thing this pandemic has taught us all is that we need to find creative ways to support our elders regardless of where they live. It is up to all of us to help “make aging part of life” for every senior in our community.