Seniors Using Technology and Music Therapy to Get through the Pandemic
The Seniors on the Move (SOTM) program provides meals, socialization, creative activities, and much more to older adults in near Westside communities. It is a component of the May Dugan Center’s Health & Wellness program. The program focuses on giving low-income seniors the tools and resources to manage their financial, physical, and emotional well-being and deepen social connectedness to promote aging in place.
Over 90% of the SOTM participants live below the federal poverty level and are socially isolated. Social isolation is a real risk for very low income older adults. Studies have shown that socially-isolated older adults are likely to be sicker, die sooner, and have higher health care expenses than seniors who retain their social connections. Research has also found that loneliness is just as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. SOTM works to reduce the impacts of both poverty and isolation, through programming and meal support.
We modified our regular programming due to COVID-19. The May Dugan Center actively engages our seniors through various outreach efforts. Our music therapy and other programs are conducted online using Zoom. Food and program materials are delivered to seniors’ homes by volunteers. Connections are also maintained through a Facebook group and regular phone calls to participants. The May Dugan Center continues to assist seniors in this difficult time, and we know our virtual program is working. Our seniors report how much the interactions through Zoom and Facebook mean to them to reduce the isolating effects of the virus.
Additionally, SOTM program had a 12-week basic technology training in 2019 and continues to include lessons and training to advance our senior’s understanding of technology resources. We expanded our technology curriculum and are making it available in English and Spanish to improve access for all our participants. Right now, only 40% of the participants have Wi-Fi access at home. 33% do not have a smartphone to access the internet. The current program goal is to increase access to Wi-Fi and technology tools among the participants. We are actively seeking funding to help us achieve this goal, so every senior is connected to virtual programs and services to seamlessly age in place.
Improving our seniors’ health and wellness is having a positive impact on communities in the near Westside of Cleveland. By using every tool in our toolbox, Seniors on the Move is working to ensure that all can stay engaged and energized during this difficult time.
Please see our News Channel 5 Segment!