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Senior services in northern Michigan expand during coronavirus pandemic

Kaye LaFond
Interlochen Public Radio

Senior services in northern Michigan are expanding offerings to older residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to census data, there are about 3,000 seniors living in Kalkaska County, many of whom  live at home alone. 

Home meal deliveries, daily check-ins, arranging to pick up a few pantry items, are all happening with frequency at local senior centers.

Kalkaska County Commission on Aging's Debbie Ball-Odeh says they’ve opened curbside meal pickup five days a week, with the option of taking frozen meals for other days in the week..

“That will help out seniors maybe not have to get out as much, maybe do fewer shopping trips if we’re giving them another two meals, one for each day of the weekend," she says.

Ball-Odeh says the commission is seeing an increase in requests, especially from residents who want meals delivered to their home.

She says they’re also calling to talk with isolated residents.

“The only socialization that many of them get were coming here for our meals," Ball-Odeah says. "So there are plans for people just to pick up the phone and call our folks and just keeping in touch with everybody and make sure everybody’s doing ok.”

She says all other services are continuing and volunteers are available to run errands for seniors.

Home aid workers, which help residents with personal care and housekeeping needs, are still keeping appointments. Ball-Odeh says they are being screened for symptoms.

Correction: A previous version of this story noted there are about 400 seniors living in Kalkaska County. That number was referring to the Village of Kalkaska. The county has a population of about 3,000 seniors. Also, some language was changed to clarify when meals can be picked up.

Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.