Breaking News
More () »

Healthwatch 16: Addressing elderly loneliness with holiday activities

A Geisinger program is picking up the tempo to bring seniors together safely.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — With Coronavirus cases on the rise once again, some seniors may be finding themselves isolated. When it comes to health impacts on the elderly, a new study found loneliness is a top concern.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, elderly Pennsylvanians like Daniel Barton have been faced with isolation.

"This pandemic has been rough, especially in 2020, trying to go places," Barton said. "I don't want to be trapped in the house with just my cat, you know. That's the one thing I don't want to do."

Professionals at LIFE Geisinger know loneliness is a challenge for many seniors. That's why the day program at the facility in South Wilkes-Barre focuses not only on addressing health needs but providing an atmosphere for socialization.

"Part of this whole program is also that independent activities and getting here and coming to the program and making sure that people don't have that depression and anxiety that can hit people, especially as they're older," said Marquene Klimshok, outreach and enrollment coordinator at LIFE Geisinger.

The program has been a game-changer for people like Basil Desiderio, giving him new energy and a chance to connect with people.

"Last summer, we couldn't do nothing because of COVID, but since they opened this place, it's a lot better now," he said. "I like coming here, making new friends, getting out more."

This week the program is welcoming the holidays with festive activities and live entertainment. Everyone got in on the fun.

"I like the activities they do, especially the days when they have the music," Desiderio said.

Barton said he looks forward to the program every week, but especially now. It's an infusion of holiday cheer he couldn't go without.

"That's what you need; you need that spark," Barton said. That spark to give you that energy and that thing of life you've got to get going."

Watch more Healthwatch 16 stories on YouTube.