GREATER LYNN SENIOR SERVICES HELPING TO REDUCE ISOLATION DURING THE ONGOING PANDEMIC
For an agency that has built its reputation over 45 years on developing personal, trusting relationships with consumers and their families, a global pandemic required pivoting quickly to new ways of doing things. Within days, most programming at Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS) shifted to a telehealth model, while nutrition programs, like Meals on Wheels, implemented new measures to ensure the safety of both delivery drivers and consumers. “The COVID-19 outbreak required that we approach our work with fresh eyes and flexibility,” says Kathryn C. Burns, MHA, Chief Executive Officer at GLSS. “Once we had our core programs re-oriented, we wondered what more we could do to support and improve people’s lives at a time when being physically together was not possible?”
The result is new programming airing on local cable stations aimed at communicating information to consumers and reducing isolation. Called “GLSS TV,” it is an entertaining, half-hour program featuring cooking segments, exercise, information about programs and services, and community news. “This is not a program just geared towards older people,” Burns states. “It offers advice and information to people of all ages who are feeling lonely or experiencing isolation.” Residents can watch GLSS TV on some local cable channels, but anyone can watch the program on their computer by visiting www.glss.net/glss-tv.
GLSS is also offering a call-in program on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. called “Lunchtime With GLSS.” This program doesn’t require any expertise with technology—people can dial in on their telephone, get information, play games like BINGO, and chat and socialize with others. Many topics are covered, but the format is flexible and participants can shape the conversation based on their own unique interests. To participate, call toll-free 1-844-857-5555 and enter code 232 2637#.
The agency also developed a series of short videos, called “Kelly’s Corner,” which provide tips and strategies for coping with the ongoing isolation and anxiety brought on by the pandemic. Those videos can be seen at www.glss.net/KellysCorner.
“We hope the result of all these programs is that people see that GLSS is still here for them, just as we always have been, even if it is by telephone or in other virtual ways,” Burns says.
Even outside of the pandemic, social isolation and loneliness among older adults present a major challenge and can even lead to serious health risks, such as dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and a study conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2020. The study found that as many as one fourth of people age 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.
GLSS TV and Lunchtime With GLSS are made possible through generous grants from AARP and Meals on Wheels America.
GLSS serves people of all ages living with disabilities and their families and caregivers and offers a broad range of services, including information and referral; home care; meals; counseling, support, and advocacy; wellness programs; and more.