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This program and other resources are available to help ensure that no senior feels alone during this unusual holiday season

From Senior Resource Alliance

While the holidays are usually a time of gathering families together, this year, many older adults will choose to stay safer at home and isolate themselves to prevent exposure to the coronavirus. That’s why the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) and local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) across the state developed the Together Apart: Holidays at Heart campaign. In promoting resources and programs that focus on mental health and connection, DOEA and AAAs are ensuring that no senior feels alone during this unusual holiday season.

Here in Central Florida, Senior Resource Alliance (SRA) will be offering resources such as Love Notes written by Rollins College students, Living Healthy Workshops and meal delivery services, among others.

From November through January, SRA will be reaching out to local seniors in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Brevard counties to conduct mental health checks and ensure they are aware of the resources available to them.

“Although we provide these services to our seniors year-round, it feels especially important to connect with them during the holidays,” said SRA President and CEO Karla Radka. “We must do our part as a community to protect the physical and mental health of our most vulnerable population by spreading holiday joy and cheer in the safest ways possible.”

Resources offered locally include:

  • Love Notes, written by Rollins College students for seniors in need
  • Partnership with SunTrust Bank to distribute meals to food-insecure seniors
  • Hyper-local programs provided by SRA’s nine provider agencies
  • Information and Referral Helpline, a multilingual call center that connects seniors to necessary resources and programs.
  • Emergency Home Energy Assistance for the Elderly Program (EHEAP) is now offering up to $3,500 for multiple energy bills while funds are available for seniors who qualify. EHEAP is 100% federally funded through a grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and helps qualifying seniors pay energy bills in an emergency.
  • Living Healthy Workshops, a series of 2.5-hour classes held once a week for six weeks, that will help seniors learn ways to self-manage their health and take charge of their lives.
  • Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE), which provides information and assistance through unbiased counseling and outreach on Medicare and other health insurance concerns.
  • Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives for Seniors (PEARLS), connects seniors with certified trainers to help them identify and manage symptoms of minor and major depression on their own.

“This year has presented numerous challenges for everyone, but we know Florida’s older population has been disproportionately affected,” said DOEA Secretary Richard Prudom. “We want to make sure the holidays remain a time of joy and connection for our seniors by reminding them that even though they might be apart from loved ones, there are many ways to reach out and stay connected. The services provided through local AAAs give individuals a way to identify and meet these needs.”

For more information about Together Apart: Holidays at Heart, visit www.holidaysatheart.org, and to learn more about SRA, visit SeniorResourceAlliance.org. If you or a loved one are living with feelings of depression and loneliness this holiday season, please call the Elder Helpline at 1-800-96 ELDER (1-800-963-5337).

Serving the community since 1995, The Senior Resource Alliance (SRA) is the Area Agency on Aging of Central Florida, which covers Brevard, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties. SRA works in partnership with nine partner agencies, including the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center, Aging Matters in Brevard, Brevard Alzheimer’s Association, Informed Families, Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc., Meals on Wheels, Etc., Seniors First, Share the Care and Osceola Council on Aging. The agency is the local resource for accessing the many services and programs of the state and federal government available to senior citizens, their caregivers and family members. SRA is also an objective clearinghouse for information and services offered by local, state and national organizations. For more information, visit SeniorResourceAlliance.org.

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs, the State Unit on Aging, helps Florida’s elders to remain healthy, safe, and independent. The Department provides most direct services through its Division of Statewide Community-Based Services, which works through the state’s eleven Area Agencies on Aging and local service providers to deliver essential services to a vital segment of the population. For more information, please visit www.elderaffairs.org.

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