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County suspends senior centers indefinitely

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All senior centers in Cortland County have been suspended indefinitely due to the continued threat and growing uncertainties around COVID-19.

County officials broke the news today at a Health & Human Services committee meeting, saying they want to wait until more is known about the potential long-term impacts of the virus.

More than 1,200 area residents regularly use and attend the senior centers located across Cortland County, many of whom are 70 and older and have underlying medical conditions that heighten their risk of severe illness if they contracted COVID-19.

“While senior center services are being postponed, it is important to note that the county is not suspending our commitment to providing nutritionally balanced meals and social opportunities for older adults,” said Committee Chairwoman Legislator Cathy Bischoff.

Since March 16, the local Area Agency on Aging has employed special protocols to continue the delivery of county-administered services to those in need, including the following:

  • Home delivered meals are expanded to older adults who are not home-bound and food pantry bags are available.
  • Monthly calls are made to center participants
  • A weekly social hour can be accessed through the internet and by phone
  • Social media includes engagement activities such as virtual travel and sightseeing
  • A limited number of animatronic pets are available to individuals with dementia
  • A pen friend program has been implemented
  • Direct mailings will be sent in the upcoming weeks to inform older adults and caregivers of these activities.

A special sub-committee of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee has been established to review Senior Centers and explore options moving forward.

Residents wishing to provide their views and/or suggestions regarding senior centers or senior services may do so by calling the Area Agency on Aging at 607-753-5060 or emailing Agency Director Elizabeth Haskins at ehaskins@cortland-co.org.

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