The pandemic brought many changes to our lives in 2020 and 2021, among these was the restrictions placed on many in-person activities. Local Senior Centers were forced to close their doors and limitations were put on indoor gatherings. Even as the world begins to open up again, many restrictions remain in place limiting the number of people who can gather together in indoor spaces. As a result of these limitations, the Cape Ann Virtual Senior Center (CAVSC) was born.
CAVSC is a collaboration of the Councils on Aging (COA) of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Essex, and Gloucester, SeniorCare, Age & Dementia Friendly Cape Ann, and 1623 Studios. This effort aims to bring COA programs to the comfort and safety of older adults’ homes. The COAs have begun to film their own local activities, including fitness classes with instructors that Senior Center consumers already know, and air them on Channel 67 on Cape Ann. Special events are also aired each month and are often paired with grab and go meals that can be picked up in advance of the show. Also available are Zoom and conference call programs that provide easy access to a wide variety of programming that had existed in-person prior to the pandemic.
While online and cable television programming cannot replace the in-person socialization, they are a great supplement to daily life. These platforms make it possible to stay engaged while at home and are reaching new audiences for Senior Centers both on Cape Ann and nationally. Even as COAs and Senior Centers begin to phase-in onsite activities, the benefits of virtual programming remains, meeting the needs of those who might be unable or unwilling to come into a physical building.
If you live in Gloucester, Manchester, Rockport, or Essex, check your local COA newsletter for up to date information on programming and how to sign up for “grab and go” options. Programming information can also be found at https://adfca.org/coa/.