BEND, OR -- The holidays can be tough for seniors who may find themselves cut off from friends and family by a lack of transportation or physical limitations. Starting this week, the Council on Aging of Central Oregon will host special meals at local senior centers. Executive Director Susan Rotella tells KBND News, "We want to make sure that any senior who is interested in being with other people and having a sense of community and enjoyment of the holidays, will have an opportunity to come to one of the senior centers in Central Oregon, so they can be treated specially; so that they can have and be around friends."
This is just the second year the Council has offered special lunches for the holidays. They decorate the centers, serve food and hands out small gifts, "Because the holiday time is when many of our older adult neighbors are lonely," says Rotella, "Many of them have no family; many of them have friends or a spouse who may have passed away, and the holidays can be a difficult time." And, she says that loneliness can lead to physical and mental health problems. "There’s a reason that this time of year has a pretty high death rate for seniors, because that loneliness and that sadness and that lack of purpose that they feel result in that feeling of ‘why do I need to continue living’."
Rotella encourages everyone to take an interest in the lives of our older neighbors. She suggests inviting a senior over, give them a card or simply wish them happy holidays, "It’s amazing what little gestures, how big an impact they can have on a senior’s life."
The Council on Aging's holiday lunches are free to adults over 60, their unpaid caregivers and loved ones, and take place once at each senior center in Central Oregon until Christmas. Each are from 12-12:30 p.m.
- November 21: La Pine Senior Center
- November 29: Bend Senior Center
- December 4: Sisters Community Church
- December 18: Redmond Senior Center
- December 19: Jefferson County Senior Center
- December 20: Prineville Senior Center