Seniors wanting to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic have a new way to connect with one another.
Banner Olive Branch Senior Center, based in Sun City, has partnered with Phoenix-based televëda for the “Without Walls’’ program, which allows senior citizens to register for free activities — such as concerts or classes — from home.
It's another way the senior center is reaching out to its members during the pandemic, in addition to helping seniors access federal benefits.
“The pandemic has been hard on all of us, and we really miss our regulars who visited the center every day. And we know they miss us and all the other people they used to see,’’ said Dawn Gileau, director of Banner Olive Branch, in a statement. “This is a way we can connect with them and they can connect with us. It will be like old friends visiting again.’’
Those without a computer won't be left out; a grant from Valley of the Sun United Way lets the senior center loan out a number of Grand Pads, tablets designed for seniors to use.
Televëda has hosted more than 100,000 live interactions and 2,000 live classes across the U.S. In a statement, the company's founder said using the senior-friendly online platform is just like turning on your favorite TV show.
“We love the idea of partnering with Banner Health to provide this kind of high-quality content,’’ said Shruti Gurudanti. “It’s an exciting idea to be able to bring this to the people who had regularly visited the center and expand it to all residents in Arizona.’’
For Ms. Gileau, the pandemic has shone a light on the loneliness that is pervasive in Arizona's older population, signaling that online programs might stick around for a long time.
“There are so many seniors out there who can’t leave the house because of medical problems that aren’t COVID related. Or they have transportation issues or in the summer, it is just too taxing for them to be outside," Ms. Gileau said. “In some ways, I think COVID has really shone a light on the overall issue of senior loneliness and isolation. And now we have a chance to really address it.’’
Those who would like to participate in "Without Walls" can call 833-299-1449.