The remarkable work of the Chelsea Senior Center

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By Doug Marrin

Another remarkable thing about Chelsea is their Senior Center. It’s a community effort, and we can all be proud of it.

At the City Council meeting on April 18, 2022, Chelsea Senior Center Manager Bill O’Reilly highlighted some of the centre’s many accomplishments over the past year. The report was part of the senior center’s funding application to the city.

The Center for Seniors requested and received $35,000 from the City budget for its next fiscal year. O’Reilly expects this to cover 8% of the Center’s costs. The Center increased its request this year by $30,000, the city’s grant since 2015, when the amount covered 14% of the Center’s expenses.

O’Reilly read out a list of the most notable highlights from the Senior Center, and Chelsea can be proud.

  • More than 1,000 area seniors, the majority of whom are Chelsea residents, have a place to go for needed services, more than 250 activities per month and much-needed socializing.
  • More than 500 meals are being prepared and delivered to homebound seniors, most of whom are Chelsea residents, through the Meals on Wheels program. Daily hot breakfasts are available on site.
  • Multigenerational programs connect school-aged children and seniors using resources such as the Trinh Pifer Intergenerational Garden.

As O’Reilly explained to the Sun Times News in an email, socializing is vital. “Due to COVID, we have been closed for on-site activities for about a year. When we reopened, we were surprised and saddened to see a dramatic decline in the physical and mental abilities of many members who live alone and have been largely cut off during this time from social interactions. Scientific research shows a strong correlation between physical and mental health when it comes to maintaining social activity.

Continuation of O’ Reilly’s list of highlights:

  • Free access to medical related programs such as “Ask an Expert”, “Matter of Balance” and “TOPS”. Retired physician Dr. Gary Maynard offers free check-ups with blood pressure checks. Foot care and massage professionals also provide services.
  • Newly introduced programs such as ‘Connections Café’ to help people with early stage memory problems and their caregivers.
  • The ROAM (Rural Older Adults in Motion) transportation program via WAVE and the Center van.
  • Technology support and services accessible through the C2S2 (Chelsea Community Senior Services) program include access to services for their home, medical referrals, family support, and more.
  • Movement classes include Enhance Fitness, Zumba Gold, Line Dancing, Movin’ & Groovin’, Gentle Yoga, Tai Chi, Line Dancing, Walking Club, Pickleball and Square Dancing.
  • Creative groups such as quilting, sewing, painting, stained glass, woodcarving, knitting and crocheting, paper crafts, ukulele, writers group, music sessions and a choir of barber.
  • Activities include reading, puzzles and games like bingo, mahjong, euchre, cribbage, hand and foot, Mexican dominoes train, pinochle and bridge.

O’Reilly told the Council that plans for this year include implementing in-home tech support, providing free tablets for homebound seniors and respite care for families struggling with memory, physical or other intensive conditions.

“And frankly, we are saving lives and adding years to the lives of these vital citizens of Chelsea and beyond,” O’Reilly said. “And I should add that we no longer have a minimum age requirement.”

When asked to elaborate on that somewhat surprising last statement with no minimum age, O’Reilly replied, “It started with Pickleball players. We noticed that a younger age group was coming. In addition, we are now placing more emphasis on intergenerational activities to bring seniors and school-aged children together through programs and activities. We realized that we shouldn’t limit interactions to those who are of school age. It therefore made sense to remove any barriers to membership. Although there is no doubt that we will always focus on the elderly. »

O’Reilly doesn’t suggest it, but who knows? Maybe one day the word ‘Senior’ will be removed from the Chelsea Senior Center altogether. That’s how essential these engaging programs and services are for seniors of all ages at a time when we really need them.

But quietly and unnoticed, as the Chelsea Senior Center works to strengthen its programs and services, this could never be achieved without the community. As O’Reilly notes, “Thanks to the taxpayers of Chelsea and the support of City Council members and mayors, the Chelsea Senior Center has been able to provide these benefits to Chelsea residents for almost 50 years. »

Photo credit: Doug Marrin

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