County office seeks to cheer up seniors amid pandemic

Reed

Otsego County has been taking steps to make sure its large senior citizen population is not isolated or suffering from mental health issues during the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We have to keep our seniors safe and we certainly want to keep them well, but we also have to be concerned about social isolation," Otsego County Office for the Aging Director Tamie Reed told The Daily Star. 

Reed said the office is focusing on phone calls and has expanded its reach from its normal clients to try to keep all of the county's seniors well. 

"For those already working with our office, we do daily or weekly check-ins, anyway," she said. "For the rest of the senior population, we really want to get the information out, before it becomes a crisis." 

Reed said the pandemic has made it hard for her office to hold social events, so it has focused on personal contacts instead. She said she hopes people will reach out to the senior citizens in their lives, too.  

"We're doing good, old school phone calls," she said. "We're telling people to just pick up the phone and check in with people. Just take the time and take five minutes to reach out to people." 

The county has also been working with the Cooperstown Senior Community Center to encourage peer-to-peer calls among senior citizens. To get involved in that program, contact Carol LaChance at cooperstownseniorcenter@gmail.com or 607-547-8471.

"This is a new program it is not something we have done in the past, but we think it is very effective," Reed said. "It isn't anything formal. It isn't a hotline or something scary. It is just peers talking to peers." 

Reed said part of the problem Otsego County seniors experience is isolation because of technology, an issue that affects rural parts of the county regardless of age. 

"As much as we have great technology ... it is just not available for all of our residents, including a large number of our seniors," she said. 

For more information about Office for the Aging programs or to get help for a local senior citizen, call 607-547-4232.  

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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