Aging in place: Helping seniors enjoy the holiday season

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By Rose Chavez

PREVIEW Columnist

The holidays can bring sadness to people of any age, especially if you’ve lost loved ones. They can be especially tough for our older family members. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind to support seniors during the holiday season.

Limited mobility: Many seniors cannot move around as they once did, especially with physical limitations. This can make the holiday season less exciting for seniors, with the inability to shop, visit and celebrate like others limiting the joy of the season.

Loneliness and depression: Depression, anxiety and isolation are common among seniors, but the holiday season can make these feelings more severe. Whether it’s a lack of social interaction, missing family and friends, or remembering what once was, the holidays can make some seniors feel more lonely than any other time of year.

Memories of the past: Many seniors have a hard time accepting that their current life is not like it was in the past.

Financial burden: The holidays can get expensive.

There are some things family members and friends can do to make the season brighter for their older loved ones:

• Make holiday rituals intergenerational: Encourage your children, grandchildren and aging loved ones to bake treats, look at pictures, sing Christmas carols or partake in holiday crafts together.

• Decorate together: Use your elders’ treasured holiday decorations. Talk about each piece as you pull it out of storage.

• Take your loved one to a holiday Christmas show occurring in the local area: Music is a wonderful way to lift the spirits and reduce depression. Holiday arts and crafts shows expose your loved one to a happy, festive environment centering around creators who express their art in a heartfelt way. 

• Assist with holiday greetings: Ask if they need help writing and sending Christmas cards or holiday letters. You’re also helping them stay connected with other family and friends, which becomes more challenging with age.

• Be supportive: Be on the lookout for cards, phone calls and other correspondence they receive during the holidays. Often, the news they contain is not pleasant. For example, someone’s spouse has died or a friend is very ill. Keep an eye out for signs of depression and be sure to offer support if there’s anything weighing on their mind.

• Reminisce: Encourage your elders to tell stories of the past. There is something about passing on memories during the holidays that really brings families together.

Year-end giving by ‘adopting’ a Senior

To round out our year-end fundraising efforts, Archuleta Seniors Inc. (ASI) and the Pagosa Senior Center are announcing our campaign to “adopt” a senior. As food costs continue to rise and cost of living grows in our beloved Pagosa Country, we are hoping the community will stand in solidarity with our Pagosa Seniors and help pay for wholesome and nutritious meals, medical monitoring and social activities for our community in need. 

We have a variety of price points that can fit anyone’s budget: $10 equals one senior meal, $50 equals five senior meals, $250 equals 25 senior meals $650 feeds a senior for three months, $1,300 feeds a senior for six months and $2,600 feeds a senior for one year. You are welcome to make your donation via snail mail, online on our website at www.psseniors.org, or feel free to walk in during our office hours and drop off your donation. 

COVID-19 test
kits available

Stop by the Pagosa Senior Center to pick up a pack of five free COVID-19 tests kits for your personal use. These kits are available to anyone in the public that needs affordable access for health promotion and disease prevention. 

Text reservations

Text us at (970) 264-2167. The Community Cafe is now accepting text messaging for meal reservations, cancellations and/or communication of any kind. When texting, please include your name, phone number and the days you want a meal. If you are calling to cancel a reservation, please include your name, phone number and the days you want to cancel. 

Texting services are available for dining-in meal reservations, Grab-n-Go meals and Meals on Wheels recipients.

Mobile food pantry service available for seniors

The Senior Center would like to remind the community about our mobile food pantry services we provide in partnership with Archuleta County MET to seniors age 60 and older throughout most areas of Archuleta County. 

In order to participate in this program, community members must visit with Barbara Noriega at the Senior Center, located in the Ross Aragon Community Center, to fill out an application to qualify for hot meal delivery service and/or the mobile pantry service. 

The application, called the dining assessment form, is also available on our website at the bottom of the Community Cafe page: http://www.psseniors.org/community-cafeacute.html. For more information, contact us at (970) 264-2167.

Mahjong

Mahjong is a 19th century Chinese tile-based game that is commonly played with four players. Each player receives 13 tiles with a goal to make matching sets and pairs (like poker). To win, a player must form four sets and one pair. Come to the Senior Center to learn or play every Tuesday at 1:15 p.m.

Medicare call by
appointment 

For anyone who needs help enrolling and navigating Medicare plans, we help with parts A, B and D. We can also help you with fraud concerns and troubleshooting any billing issues you may be having. By appointment only. Please call our Medicare line at (970) 264-0501, ext 4. 

Bridge 

The longest-played bridge game in Archuleta County takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m. Bridge is a four-player card game with partners sitting opposite each other around a table. It is a trick-taking card game using a standard 52-card deck. Come alone or bring a partner.

Hand and foot card game

Hand and foot card game to start up again at the Senior Center. Whether you are new to hand and foot or interested in learning, please join us most Thursdays at 1:15 p.m. at the Senior Center. This card game involves four rounds of playing until the final round is reached — some two to three hours later. Plan to stay and meet some new friends or catch up with those you have missed over the last couple of years. No experience is necessary so come willing to learn.

Share your pictures 

Engaging pictures are needed from seniors and their families who live, work and play their best lives in Archuleta County. We are looking for pictures that convey people’s active lifestyles, families, culture and more. We would like to use these pictures in our grant applications, on social media and our website. Please email all pictures to rosa@psseniors.org.

Wingspan and new
programming 

ASI is looking to expand our programming options. Wingspan, a game for bird lovers, was donated to the Senior Center and is looking for a champion to help facilitate this engaging board game. Come learn more about this fun game or suggest other ideas to help us find some new and meaningful opportunities to connect over and have fun. Please call or text us at (970) 264-2167 to volunteer or for more information.

Volunteers needed

The Community Cafe at the Senior Center is requesting volunteers to help with kitchen tasks and substitutes for our Meals on Wheels drivers. Please call or text us at (970) 264-2167 to volunteer or for more information.

Board vacancies

The ASI Board of Directors has multiple vacant positions open. The terms are three years with an option to renew for an additional term. Potential candidates should be at least 55 years of age or older and must have a passion for adult and aging services.

Community Cafe menu

Thursday, Dec. 8 — Pork kielbasa, German potato salad, sauteed cabbage, garden salad, fruit, milk and German chocolate cake.

Friday, Dec. 9 — Chicken tortilla soup with diced avocados, crispy tortillas, garden salad, fruit and milk.

Monday, Dec. 12 — Fish tacos with cabbage, Baja sauce, lime, pinto beans, garden salad, fruit, milk and cookie.

Tuesday, Dec. 13 — Chicken fettuccine with Alfredo sauce, garlic bread, glazed carrots, garden salad, fruit and milk.

Wednesday, Dec. 14 — Stuffed portabella mushroom with roasted veggies and feta cheese, baked sweet potato, garden salad, fruit and milk.

Thursday, Dec. 15 — Beef Frito pie, cilantro lime rice, garden salad, fruit, milk and vanilla pudding.

Friday, Dec. 16 — Pork tenderloins with caramelized onions, apples, cranberries, couscous, asparagus, hollandaise, garden salad, fruit and milk.

Grab-N-Go meals

Grab-N-Go meals reservations and cancellations are required. Please call or text by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you want to pick up a meal. A suggested donation of $5 helps to sustain our program. No one will be turned away for their inability to donate. For ages 59 and younger, the cost is $10.50. Please call or text us at (970) 264-2167 to make a reservation.

Meals on Wheels

We deliver fresh Meals on Wheels five days a week (and provide frozen Meals on Wheels for weekends) to homebound Archuleta County residents. Call or text us at (970) 264-2167.

Requesting donations

ASI has an immediate monetary need to support ongoing operations and programming that provide critical services to some of the most vulnerable in Archuleta County. Please consider donating to ASI. 

You may mail your donation to P.O. Box 3444, Pagosa Springs CO 81147 or please visit our website: http://www.psseniors.org/. Donation checks can be written to: Archuleta Seniors Inc. We are located at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. 

For more information about ASI, please visit http://www.psseniors.org/.