SUN CITY, Ariz. (March 26, 2021) – The COVID-19 pandemic forced most seniors to stay home and risk isolation but an innovative partnership between Banner Olive Branch Senior Center and televëda now provides seniors a way to connect with others without leaving home.
Through the center’s “Without Walls’’ program, seniors can sign up for free online access to programs such as concerts and interactive classes especially designed for seniors.
And for those who don’t have a computer, the senior center also has available, through a grant from Valley of the Sun United Way, a program to loan out a limited number of GrandPads, computer tablets designed for users who are 75 years and older.
“The pandemic has been hard on all of us and we really miss our regulars who visited the center every day. And we know they miss us and all the other people they used to see,’’ said Dawn Gielau senior center director.
“This is a way we can connect with them and they can connect with us. It will be like old friends visiting again.’’
Gielau said she isn’t sure when the Banner Olive Branch Senior Center will reopen to provide in-person events but through Arizona-based televëda, they have the chance to stay connected.
“We’re going to offer our popular programs like bingo and health information. It will all be online, and people can just tune us in like their favorite TV show.’’
“We love the idea of partnering with Banner Health to provide this kind of high-quality content,’’ said Shruti Gurudanti, the company’s co-founder.
“It’s an exciting idea to be able to bring this to the people who had regularly visited the center and expand it to all residents in Arizona.’’
Televëda has hosted more than 100,000 live interactions and 2,000 live classes led by more than 100 activity vendors. Its senior-friendly platform has been streamed to clients that include cities, senior centers and senior-living facilities.
Even once the senior center reopens, Gielau still sees the strong need for virtual, online gatherings.
“There are so many seniors out there who can’t leave the house because of medical problems that aren’t COVID related. Or they have transportation issues or in the summer, it is just too taxing for them to be outside.
“In some ways, I think COVID has really shone a light on the overall issue of senior loneliness and isolation. And now we have a chance to really address it.’’
About Banner Olive Branch Senior CenterBanner Olive Branch Senior Center has been serving the Sun Cities and surrounding communities since 1988. The senior center offers a variety of social and educational programs, as well as support services, including a home-delivered meal program, daily congregate lunches, health and wellness classes and a pantry program supported by donations from the community. For information about Banner Olive Branch Senior Center, visit www.BannerHealth.com/olivebranch