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Senior services returning to ‘normal’ after pandemic challenges

Lona Morton, Hancock County Senior Services Director

Hancock County Senior Services hosted the May Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Hawesville Senior Citizens Center, with Director Lona Morton taking the opportunity to outline the work and services provided to the county’s older generation.

“I always says that our number-one mission is to provide for socialization of our elders through fun programs, giving them a safe place to be, and creating opportunities for entertainment,” Morton said.

Senior Services provides outreach to Hancock residents over the age of 60 by providing access to facilities at Hawesville, Lewisport, Dukes and South Hancock. One of the main programs within the services is the feeding program, which provides congregate and home-delivered noontime meals.

Morton said before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the centers were serving about 500 meals per month, with that ballooning to 1,200 by September 2020. The meals are prepared by Canteen in Owensboro, and then distributed by center staff. By the end of May 2020, staff were delivering nearly 60 meals per day in the county, which placed a strain on the small staff.

“We were fortunate to have received three cycles of six months each of a Workforce Development Grant which allowed us to hire additional help to meet the needs of our people,” Morton said.

Other services include a fitness center, games and cards, and a remodeled “living room” area with nice furniture, big screen TV, and two pool tables.

“I am extremely grateful to Fiscal Court for the support they show Senior Services,” Morton said. “When there is a need, they are behind us and ready to get involved.”

Around the two-year mark of the pandemic, Senior Services had distributed 13,097 meals, nearly double the 7,000 they would have normally served.

Morton said in 2022, operations are returning to somewhat normal (pre-pandemic), though there are still some seniors uncomfortable with coming to the center. Morton said those clients are still receiving meals and delivery drivers provide the best socialization and friendship they can under the circumstances.

“There are still needs in our county,” Morton said. “We are limited in how many we can serve, so we currently have 17 people on the waiting list to receive meals. We have planned our first day trip in more than two years, and there is a lot of excitement surrounding that.”

Seniors and staff will travel to Patti’s Settlement in Grand Rivers. “Any time we do something centered around eating a good meal, everyone gets pretty excited,” Morton said.

The Nutrition Program, which is administered nationwide, celebrated its 50th Anniversary earlier this year. As well, May is annually recognized at Older Americans Month, with this year’s theme “Age My Way.”

Additionally, Senior Services periodically offers evidence-based health programs such as Walk with Ease, Matter of Balance, Bingocize, and chronic disease management education.

A health fair is typically conducted in May, and staff works to provide resources for flu shot clinics and blood pressure management. Expert advice is also provided for open enrollment for Medicare Part D and prescription drug claims. Legal aid counseling is also provided.

Transportation services are also offered for doctor appointments within a 50-mile radius, rides to senior centers, grocery shopping, pharmacy runs, and personal errands. Pricing is suggested at a $1.50 donation in-county, and a $20 donation outside of the county.

The Hawesville center operates Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Lewisport operates 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., with meals served on-site Tuesday and Thursday.

Dukes operates from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., with a potluck the second Wednesday of each month.

South Hancock at Pellville operates from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., with a potluck the third Wednesday of each month.

The Hawesville office can be reached at 270-927-8313 for information on all programs.

By C. Josh Givens

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