WESTFIELD – The Senior Center is hosting its Serving up Senior Safety drive-through event Oct. 17, with lunch and fire prevention and COVID safety packets for participants.
Council on Aging Director Tina Gorman said with funding from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services “Senior Safe” grant, each participant will receive a bag of safety items, informational flyers, and the new COVID-19 Preparedness File of Life packets
North Elm Butcher Block is providing lunch and reservations are required by noon Oct. 14 unless the lunch is sold-out. North Elm Butcher Block will prepare up to 200 lunches, at a cost of $3 each, paid at the time of pickup.
have an option of cheeseburger chowder or chicken noodle soup as well as the choice of a ham and cheese or turkey and cheese sandwich. The Council On Aging will provide a small water and dessert.
“We are thrilled with this first-time partnership with the Butcher Block and are most grateful for their recognition of the importance of senior safety,” said Gorma.
While a delicious lunch may be the highlight of the event, it’s the safety component that Gorman said is important for city seniors.
“Safety of all types for the City’s older adults has been a COA priority for many years,” she said. “We’ve often used our annual Senior Options event to provide safety information to our seniors. This year we postponed and then had to cancel that event completely. The Serving Up Senior Safety Saturday Luncheon is an alternative method of providing both information, as well as safety items, to our older adults. We are hoping that by holding it on a Saturday, we’ll get some participants who may be new to our Senior Center services and programs.”
Gorman annually submits a Senior Safe grant proposal to the State Department of Fire Services.
“Becauseof the pandemic, I had to utilize the funding creatively,” she said. “Several years ago, we did a mass distribution of the File of Life packets. We ran out and during the past two years have had numerous requests for them. So, we have purchased the brand new COVID-19 preparedness packets and will be giving those out at the safety luncheon.”
The File Of Life is a personal medical home file prepared for emergency first responders and is meant to provide quick and easy access to an individual’s basic medical information. It is a red magnetic plastic folder that can be kept on the refrigerator for speedy access in the event of an emergency. The file contains important personal information regarding health and emergency contacts in the event that the person in need is unable to give that information. Westfield’s File of Life packet also contains a smaller, non-magnetic size that should be carried in a purse or wallet for use when away from home. The new informational card contains questions related to COVID-19, flu shots, and pneumonia vaccinations.
Gorman said the fire safety information is invaluable.
“Fire safety for Westfield’s students has been a priority in our schools for many years. But fire safety for older adults presents a number of challenges,” she said. “Those with visual, hearing, mobility, or cognitive limitations must be especially cautious about safety and certainly have a plan in place in case of a crisis. Additionally, we can’t gather up the City’s seniors in a school auditorium and get this important information out to them. The information that we’ll be distributing at the Serving Up Senior Safety event will include a broad spectrum of fire safety practices as well as disaster preparedness.”
The Council On Aging has declared October as ‘Senior Safety Month’ for the City’s older adults. Toward that end, the COA is hosting a number of events including the debut of itsDiabetes Dialogue program and an educational program on protecting, detecting, and reporting healthcare errors on cable Channel 15; a Think Pink breast cancer awareness curbside luncheon; and participation in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day which will be hosted by the Council On Aging and facilitated by the Westfield Police Department. Information on all of these programs can be found in the monthly Voice of Experience newsletter which is available in print or on the City’s website, or by calling the Senior Center at 413-562-6435.
Gorman said the pandemic is taking its toll on seniors.
“COVID has been especially hard for many of the city’s older adults. Senior Centers were designed to feign off social isolation which can lead to depression and the exacerbation of physical problems,” Gorman said. “The COA staff has been working tirelessly to provide as many services and as much alternative programming as possible to keep our seniors engaged and healthy.”
Gorman said the community can help the COA meets the needs of its older residents a number of ways.
“There are 8,000 older adults living in Westfield,” she said, “the Senior Center staff cannot possibly attend to every single one of them in the way that we’d like to. To date, we have made over 1,500 telephone reassurance calls since the pandemic began. But we need family, friends, and neighbors to help. Many have already done so. Please continue to keep tabs on the City’s seniors. A phone call, porch or driveway visit, e-mail, or snail mail note, can brighten someone’s day immeasurably. It truly does ‘take a village’.”
For those with reservations for this special Saturday luncheon, meals will be available for curbside pick-up near the Senior Center front patio between the hours of 11 a.m. and noon. Please note that the soup will have to be heated at home. Participants must enter the Senior Center parking lot via Murphy Circle, which is the entrance farthest from the Senior Center building, for meal pick-up.
Reservations for the ‘Serving Up Senior Safety’ Saturday Luncheon will be taken by telephone at 413-562-6435. Each caller may reserve up to four meals and must provide the name, telephone number, and soup and sandwich selections for each person on his or her reservation list.