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Washington Park Senior Center is one of the five county-run centers closed due to COVID-19. (PHOTO: Analise Pruni)

How to help senior citizens during the coronavirus pandemic

These days, Gaylyn Reske constantly has one thought on her mind: "How can we make sure our older adults are still getting their meals?"

As the senior dining coordinator for the Milwaukee County Department on Aging, Reske oversees the 27 dining sites that serve adults 60 years of age and older.

She said 16 dining sites remain open but are takeout-only in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"For years, we have wanted people to be coming, congregating, talking, making friends, doing activities," Reske said. Now seniors are losing the opportunities to socialize that the sites provided.

Staying connected

Staffers at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, which has closed both of its locations, have been working on how to stay connected with their clients despite not physically being with them.

"Isolation can be very damaging to health," said Casey Rozanski, the vice president of fund development and marketing at St. Ann. "We're all now getting a taste of what that is like for many senior citizens."

Other resources through the Department on Aging

Individuals can still call the Aging Resource Call Center at (414) 289-6874 to speak with staff.

The Family Caregiver Support Network is still available by phone at (414) 479-8800. Caregivers supporting a loved one with Alzheimer's are encouraged to look at these tips from the Alzheimer's Association during this time.

Meals on Wheels service will continue as normal to the older adults in the program and remains a top priority for the Department on Aging.

As news changes daily, the Department on Aging will update its website.

Other resources

Check and see if your grocery store has senior citizen hours. Pete's Fruit Market, with locations at 2323 N. Martin Luther King Drive and 1400 S. Union St., recommends senior citizens shop between 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to potentially avoid more crowds.

Ascension St. Joseph Hospital opened a mobile testing center for free COVID-19 tests.

Check the Centers For Disease Control or Wisconsin Department of Health Services for up-to- date information on COVID-19.

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