Orange County Department on Aging suspended activities at both senior centers beginning Monday, March 16, due to the risks presented by COVID-19. Since that time staff have worked to implement and modify programs and services to help support seniors throughout the crisis.
“It has been incredible to see everyone pull together as a team to transition services into virtual programs,” said Janice Tyler, director of the Orange County Department on Aging. “We are offering new and innovative services and working hard every day to meet the changing needs of our community.”
Aging Transition Services
- Aging Helpline: To register for Aging Transitions programs or talk to trained staff about any aging-related issue, please call (919) 968-2087 or email Aging Services. We try to find answers to your age-related questions and link you to the services that you need. Helpline hours are 9 am – 4 pm, Mon - Fri.
- Chinese Aging Helpline: Call 919-245-4275
- Spanish Aging Helpline: Call 919-245-4245
- Care Partner Collaborative: A social gathering for care partners and their loved ones experiencing cognitive and/or physical challenges. Our group has moved online, coming together each Wednesday at 11 a.m. via GoToMeeting. We continue to create a flexible space for sharing and connection, with all participants welcome to join in simple, enjoyable group activities according to individual ability levels.
- Caregiver Support Group: Virtual meeting with other caregivers to share experiences, learn new skills, and get answers to questions about dementia and other long-term disabilities.
- Durable Medical Equipment: Our occupational therapist is available should you need durable medical equipment, or a phone consultation.
- Employment Services for Older Adults: Job seekers, right now, there are part-time and full-time jobs available. Our employment services specialist can help you be better prepared for your job search.
- Memory Café: A monthly opportunity for persons with dementia and their care partners to relax over a “virtual” cup of coffee and socialize.
- Volunteer Driver Program continues to provide rides for older adults to essential services. This service has become even more important as Orange County Public Transit and Chapel Hill Transit have limited service.
Community Based Services
For information or to register for our Community Based Services, call the Passmore Center 919-245-2015 or Seymour Center 919-968-2070
Fit Seniors: “At home” exercise options offered by our Wellness Program instructors and staff to help keep you fit and healthy. Visit the Fit Seniors webpage for options like Balance Class I, Yoga, Strength Training and more. Watch for more options in the future and get started today, it’s FREE!
Lunch Program: Lunches are distributed curbside 3-times a week. A hot meal and a boxed lunch are distributed on Mondays and Wednesdays, and one hot meal on Fridays, ensuring that our registered lunch participants continue to receive 5 meals weekly. At this time we are only accepting new applications for those county residents age 60 and over and who can pick up a meal at the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill or Passmore Center in Hillsborough. Those in group quarters will only be considered if they can identify someone to come and pick up their meal. To register, email Isabel Jackson or call 919-245-4256.
Senior Centers: Here are a few of the many ways that senior center staff and volunteers are making a difference:
- Lunch program participants receive DIY Activity, Craft and Fitness packets
- Implemented a new Stay at Home Scavenger Hunt program, complete with prizes
- COVID-19 updates & guidelines are shared using multiple distribution methods
- Staff & volunteers encourage isolated participants through letters, text and phone calls
- Senior Center Garden Clubs BYOT (Bring Their Own Tools) to work in the gardens while practicing social distancing using a rotational system
- Quilters make and donate masks to health care facilities
- Download a staff curated list of online activities that mirror some of our drop in activities including crosswords, card games, reading books, painting, table tennis, DIY projects, and more.
Seymour Tech Remote Learning: We are offering FREE remote technology courses via Zoom. Find the schedule and sign up for these remote learning courses at www.seymourtechcenter.org. Find the course you want and simply click to enroll for each class.
Volunteer Programs and Opportunities
For information about our volunteer programs and opportunities, call the Aging Helpline at 919-968-2087, email Shenae McPherson or call 919-245-4243.
- COVID-19 Volunteer Opportunities: Would you like to share your skills and gifts with older adults in Orange County. Leaders from Orange County’s Department on Aging and UNC’s Partnerships in Aging have created a list to match volunteers with the needs and changing circumstances of individuals and organizations that serve older adults. To volunteer, please add your name to the COVID-19 Volunteer List.
- Emergency Plan & Serious Illness Plan: When we make health decisions ahead of time and put those wishes in writing, we bring peace of mind to our families and to ourselves. The Project EngAGE End of Life Choices Senior Resource Team has created a document to aid in beginning your process for emergency planning during this COVID-19 health crisis. This form is not intended to be or to replace your advanced directives document, but is to be used as a tool to provide additional information for quick access should you need it. Access the form here.
- Grocery Delivery Service: If you are in need of grocery delivery, or if you know an older adult who would benefit from this service, Volunteer Connect 55+ is now offering this resource. To register for this program, complete the online request form or contact the Aging Helpline at 919-968-2087. This service is being offered to Orange County residents age 60 and over. Ordering requirements apply.
- Supplemental Food Box Program: A FREE monthly Commodity Supplemental Food Program food box is available for qualifying for Orange County residents, age 60 and over who meet income requirements. Contact us for information or to apply.
- Tax Assistance - Virtual Services: The Orange County VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program) has transitioned to a Virtual Service providing assistance with 2019 tax returns for some taxpayers. The tax filing deadline for both Federal and NC State returns has been delayed to July 15, 2020. To learn more visit our VITA website.
- Telephone Reassurance: As we continue to enforce social distancing, and social gatherings aren’t possible, we want to make sure you’re doing okay. Would you like a daily phone call just to check on you? We are actively enrolling new Orange County adults age 55 and over. If interested, contact us today!
“The health and safety of our older adults is our priority,” said Department on Aging director, Janice Tyler, “We will continue to develop new methods and strengthen existing ones to support their needs throughout this pandemic crisis.”
Please reach out to our staff for questions or assistance, we are here for you!
Staff Appointments: Aging Transitions, Senior Center and Volunteer Connect 55+ staff are available to meet by phone, email or “virtual” appointment. For more information or assistance, please contact the Passmore Center: 919-245-2015, Seymour Center: 919-968-2070, or the Aging Helpline at 919-968-2087.