Provided by Prince William County
Bingo is far and away the most popular of the virtual programs offered by the Area Agency on Aging’s Virtual Senior Center.
“At this point, it’s just the pride of winning with the promise that when we do open back up, everyone’s name will go into a drawing to receive a big prize,” said Cory Cox, Area Agency on Aging wellness and fitness coordinator.
Yoga classes are quite popular at the Virtual Senior Center. There are also monthly trivia contests, which have included questions about National Women’s History Month and St. Patrick’s Day. In addition, the site offers games, such as mahjong, chess, bridge, crossword puzzles and more, along with recorded videos on knitting, painting for beginners, nutrition tips and several library courses.
Live events include Paint and Sip on Wednesdays, exercise classes on Mondays, bingo on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and yoga on Wednesdays.
Other recorded events available at any time include performances by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera.
Scenes from live “Eagle Cams” are also available, as are two Smithsonian National Zoo “Panda Cams” and links to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the San Diego Zoo.
“The idea behind it is that 24/7/365, you can go on and find some sort of activity. Most of it is geared toward seniors, but with the National Theater performances, for example, I very much encourage them to bring their grandkids and watch the presentations,” Cox said.
The Virtual Senior Center helps with the isolation that some seniors feel as the pandemic wears on.
“A lot of people have been just sitting around at a home for a year without much interaction. This gives them the chance to see their friends and talk with someone outside of the family,” Cox said. “For a lot of people, this is their only source of interaction with others. This is their only way to talk to people.”
Programs are Appreciated
The programs offer even more benefits. “The nutritional content on the website is excellent and very helpful,” said Judy B., who preferred to withhold her last name. “Weekly yoga with Erica Ingraham has become a must for both me and my husband, as she keeps it interesting and elicits our participation and requests.”
The programs have helped Judy get through her lymphoma. “It takes over your whole brain and your whole life,” Judy said of cancer. “You break a nail and you’re like ‘Oh my God, my cancer is acting up,’ and you get kind of nutty, but I attended the class called “How to Manage Your Illness.’ It gives tips and tools, and it has really helped me turn around and stop the worrying. It really helped me manage that stress.”
To be Continued
Word of the programs has gotten out in the past year, and people flock to the website.
“We still get new people every day. One of the things I’m most proud of is that we have a near 100 percent retention rate. If somebody comes once, they always come back. I definitely see it continuing once COVID is over,” Cox said of the virtual programming. “I see it morphing into something to accommodate people who are at home sick or can’t come into the center.”