The Claremore Senior Center does not have a reopening date set, but they are planning significant, permanent changes for when that day comes.
Senior Center Director Stacey Dowden said the center is following guidelines set by the Oklahoma governor and Centers for Disease Control, which still encourage social distancing for those in the 65 and over age group.
“Until they remove social distancing and the 65 and older ‘Safer at Home,’ we’re not going to be able to reopen,” Dowden said.
In the meantime, Dowden said, “We’re making some changes to how we do things, period, once we reopen.”
Upholstery chairs in the game room were replaced with vinyl covered chairs that can be easily washed, hand sanitizer wipe dispensers have been installed throughout the building, napkins and silverware will be placed at tables instead of being located along the food line, and janitorial staff will go from wiping doorknobs and table top games once a day to multiple times a day.
“Anything they are touching, we are going to start wiping down, in order to protect such a vulnerable age group,” Dowden said. “This gave us pause to say ‘hey, maybe we need to take these extra precautions all the time for our seniors own health and safety needs … you can never take too many precautions when it comes to this age group.”
Dowden said that she and the other staff and volunteers of the Claremore Senior Center miss seeing their friends and visitors. For those they don’t see and get to interact with in the daily lunch line, they make phone calls to check in on people and their needs.
“We miss them so much,” Dowden said. “We cannot wait to get reopened and have them back up here.”
Outside donations from many generous sources have allowed the center to provide care packages to hand out once a week with lunch that include snack foods and occasionally rolls of toilet paper.
“We appreciate the community’s support for our seniors,” Dowden said.
Community members can also help by making sure the seniors in their lives are doing okay and have their needs met, Dowden said.
“If anybody has a neighbor who is a senior citizen, check on them,” Dowden said. “If you have a family member, check on them, because they are lonely.”
“Reach out to the senior citizens that you know, check on them, see if there is something they need, write them a card, just something to let them know people are here for them and thinking of them and trying to give them some encouragement.”