County hosts virtual senior center

Event informs older residents about available program

There was a time when a community's older residents would gather at the senior center to socialize and learn about programs directed toward their demographic. These days, however, those kind of gatherings aren't reaching as many seniors.

In order to reach out to as many older residents as possible, Schenectady County officials came up with the idea of a traveling senior center, the first of which was held at Tops American Grill and Bakery in Rotterdam on Thursday, July 29. About 75 seniors attended the first event, known as the Virtual Senior Center, and the county is looking to find other venues for future events.

"The idea behind it is that [Schenectady County's Department of Senior and Long Term Care Services] is trying to look at different ways on how to reach out to seniors and distribute important information," said Joe McQueen, spokesman for Schenectady County.

Traditionally, information used to go through service agencies to places like senior meal centers, said McQueen, but more active seniors don't visit such places. While active seniors might not be interested in some programs, there are others, such as heating and cooling assistance, which can be helpful.

"Today, seniors are a variety of people. They're a variety of ages and have different interests " just like people of all ages," said Susan Savage, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature, D-Niskayuna. "I think this is a great opportunity for people to get together, socialize, be in an informal setting and learn about the opportunities and programs that are available."

Programs begin with refreshments and cover senior-friendly topics, such as transportation, housing, health insurance, caregiver support, heating and cooling assistance, recreation opportunities and special, senior-only trips.

Program specialists are available during the stops for one-on-one discussions to answer questions. There are also activities with chances to win door prizes donated by local businesses. Semi-permanent information centers for seniors will be set up around the county, with the lobby at Tops as the first.

"I want to applaud Senior and Long Term Care. They have done a lot to change the way we look at services and activities for seniors, and we want to continue to look at things in new ways because we live in a time when our needs and directions as a society are constantly changing," said Savage.

For information contact the Department of Senior and Long Term Care at 382-8481. Also, the county's website has information about the Virtual Senior Center .""

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