Annual Report Of The Franklin Senior Center - FY 2021
Note: FY 2021 is last year (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021). The report was prepared to cover the business for the FY 2021 period. This year’s report FY 2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) is in preparation now and is normally available for distribution at the polls for the November election.
The Franklin Senior Center is located at 10 Daniel McCahill Street and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Center provides programs, services and activities along with outreach, information and referral to serve the needs of older adults, people with disabilities and their families. Social services assistance is available to all adult residents in Franklin.
The Senior Center offers health and wellness, nutrition, social service coordination, socialization, recreation, transportation, educational and cultural programs, a supportive day program, respite care and volunteer and intergenerational opportunities.
The Center’s mission is to enhance the independence and quality of life for Franklin’s older adults by:
▪Identifying the needs of this population and creating programs that meet those needs.
▪Offering the knowledge, tools and opportunities to promote mental, social and physical well-being.
▪Advocating for relevant programs and services in our community.
▪Serving as a community focal point for aging issues and as liaison to local, state and Federal resources for older adults.
This year, despite our building being physically closed, we were able to keep seniors engaged by continuing many of our regularly scheduled activities virtually using the Zoom platform. These activities included Discussion Group, Senior Scribblers’ Writers Group, TOPS weight-loss, Book Club, Caregiver Support Group, and our Memory Cafe. The Supportive Day Program, which remained suspended, met online for a weekly social hour. Several new programs were created exclusively for Zoom including a weekly Quarantini Social Hour, a monthly game of Name that Tune, and Franklin Matters Q&A. We also offered a variety of fitness classes including Chair Exercise, Cardio, Strength & Balance, Mindful Meditation and Zumba Gold. These programs have been described by seniors as a lifeline during a time of isolation.
We received a grant from the Metrowest Health Foundation to start our, “Alexa Program.” In an effort to reduce social isolation among older adults, Alexa devices can be given to lonely, isolated seniors to use in their homes. Alexa is a voice-activated virtual assistant that can help connect seniors with the world and act as a companion. Staff assists with device set-up, training and ongoing support.
Health & Wellness Programs
Our Wellness Program promotes Healthy Aging through programs and services provided by our Health & Wellness Nurse including the following:
▪Health Clinics: Our Wellness Nurse was able to resume in-person Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, and Pulse Ox readings with safety precautions in place, and a drive-thru flu clinic was held. Podiatry and Vision Screenings remained suspended.
▪Fall Prevention: Our Wellness Nurse offered a Safety & Balance video to address balance and muscle strength and offer techniques to enhance safety. In May, we resumed our Home Safety Assessments to evaluate elders’ homes to determine if their risk for dangerous falls can be reduced. If needed, our volunteer installed grab bars and or adaptive devices free of charge.
▪Fitness: We offer several classes tailored to older adults on Zoom including Cardio, Strength and Balance, Zumba Gold, and Chair Exercise. These classes along with Chair Yoga, Tai Chi and Line Dancing resumed in- person when the building reopened in June. The Center’s Fitness Room which offers free use of equipment, including a treadmill, stepper and several stationary bikes, remained closed this year.
▪Support: Support Groups offered include Low Vision, Hearing Loss, Weight Loss, Fibromyalgia and Caregivers Support. The Health & Wellness Nurse also offers one-on-one consultations. These consults were continued via remote or teleconference meetings as the building remained closed.
▪Mental Health Counseling: The Center is part of a consortium of local Senior Centers, which provides access to timely, flexible mental health services with a licensed clinician. This enables elders who experience mental health challenges to get effective, appropriate treatment. Counseling was offered online or by telephone during the closure.
▪Health Education: Monthly presentations were offered by our Health & Wellness Nurse, such as Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke, Five Wishes, Positive Psychology, Skin Changes, and Healthy Sleep.
The Senior Center provided the following programs to support caregivers and their loved ones:
▪Supportive Day Program provides a structured, stimulating day program for frail elders, and respite for their caregivers. Participants enjoy fun activities, socialization, gentle exercise and they share a meal in our Cafe. During the closure, our Coordinator remained in contact with clients and caregivers through Zoom gatherings, reassurance calls and email blasts.
▪Companion Caregivers is an affordable, in-home service that provides a trained, vetted companion for frail elders and respite to their caregivers. This program remained suspended this year.
▪Caregivers Support Group meets biweekly and is led by two facilitators who have completed a training program with the Alzheimer’s Association. This group was offered remotely during the closure via Zoom.
▪Memory Café - a monthly gathering where those living with dementia and their care partners can enjoy a social event without stress and anxiety. We were able to convert this meeting into a Zoom session during the closure, which is of great benefit to caregivers whose loved ones have been homebound due to the pandemic.
▪Powerful Tools for Caregivers, and The Savvy Caregiver training, both 6-week, evidence-based workshops were presented via Zoom by Tri-Valley Elder Services.
▪Lectures on Caregiving included Assistive Technology & Apps for Family Caregivers presented by the Alzheimer’s Association via Zoom.
Outreach/Social Service Coordination
The Senior Center provides assistance in obtaining housing, employment, home care services, tax abatements, long- term care placement, prescription drug programs, as well as food stamps, fuel assistance, Mass Health, and Supplemental Security Insurance. Our Social Service Coordinators can assist Franklin’s adult residents regardless of age, and can provide home visits to homebound residents. While our building was closed, our Social Service Coordinator continued to provide assistance with food resources, mental health referrals, caregiver assistance and reassurance via telephone.
Staff was also essential in providing outreach, information and assistance to seniors in the community regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. Staff assisted in making vaccine appointments, appointment pre-registration, scheduling transportation to appointments, and referrals to the state homebound vaccination program.
The Social Services Department supports older adults through our Low Vision and Hearing Loss Support Programs which provides support, information and referral and training in new technologies. During the closure, staff used a teleconference call for the Low Vision Support Group and an Audio Book Club that meets biweekly.
The Senior Center made referrals to SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) program, which continued to provide assistance with health insurance issues over the telephone. AARP provided free income tax preparation at the Center for 70 individuals with strict safety protocols in place.
The Common Grounds Cafe, which is located inside the Center and offers breakfast and lunch daily, remained closed until the building reopened in June. Thanks to a grant from the CHNA 6 (Greater Milford Community Health Network), we were able to continue our Curbside Meal program. The Curbside Cafe, created in response to the pandemic, served a total of 4,390 freshly prepared meals curbside at the Senior Center to elders 60 years of age and older, as well as disabled residents.
Transportation is a vital element to reduce social isolation and improve the quality of life for older adults. Franklin offers accessible transit services for elders and those with disabilities through GATRA, the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority. This year, GATRA announced the start of their new on-demand service, GATRA Go United, which can be booked the same day by using an app, or by calling 1-800-698-7676.. This curb to curb service is available to all residents, regardless of age. GATRA provides out-of-town transportation for medical appointments in Boston, Providence, Framingham, Worcester and several other cities.
Cultural, Educational & Social Programs
▪Dr. Andrew Budson discussed his award-winning book, Seven Steps to Managing Your Memory via Zoom.
▪The Franklin Cultural Council sponsored 4 free outdoor concerts, featuring longtime Berklee College of Music Professors.
▪The Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office presented information on Scams, as well as their Yellow Dot program which provides EMTs with quick access to your medical and emergency contact information in the event of an accident.
▪Nantucket Ranger Allen Reinhard provided several video presentations about Nantucket followed by a live Q&A session via Zoom.
▪Soprano Singer Monica Spencer provided a Christmas sing-along outside in the parking lot.
▪Jim Johnston guided seniors virtually through a tour of the Franklin Historical Museum.
▪The Senior Center hosted several talks by Alan Earls, accompanied by a slideshow via zoom.
▪The Franklin Firefighters Association hosted a drive-thru luncheon for St. Patrick’s Day.
▪The Senior Center hosted A Night at the Wang, a virtual tour of the Wang Theater’s building.
▪Dean College offered opportunities for elders to audit several classes remotely and Dr. Jessica Pisani provided an Earth Day Lecture.
Recreational activities include: cards, board games, arts & crafts, bingo, pokeno, pool/billiards, movies, educational programs, a chorale group, and day trips. The Center also provided instruction and educational programs in the following:
•Computer, Tablet & Smartphone Instruction
•Italian & Spanish Conversation Group
•Current Events Discussion Group
•Wood Carving Instruction
•Knitting & Quilting Instruction
•Arts & Crafts Instruction
•Writers Group – Senior Scribblers
•Staged Readings/Senior Players
•Book Discussion Group – The Page Turners
Friends of Franklin Elders
The Friends of Franklin Elders, Inc. (FOFE) is a private, non-profit organization, which was founded to assist the Franklin Senior Center with supplemental funding for programs, services, and equipment. FOFE generously provided funding for entertainment for our social events, newsletter printing, grab bars, activity support and coffee expenses.
The Friends publish our monthly newsletter, The Franklin Connection, which is mailed directly to over 1,500 residents who request it and read online by 600 more. In partnership with the Benjamin Franklin Charter School, FOFE provided gift cards to 40 homebound elderly residents during the holiday season.
Tax Work-Off Program
Franklin offers a Tax Work-Off Program, which provides senior homeowners aged 60 and over with a credit of up to $1,200.00 off their real estate taxes for working in various town departments. The earnings are deducted from their real estate taxes, providing tax relief to elders, while supplying the town with skilled workers.
Volunteers are the backbone of the Senior Center and we are profoundly grateful for all their efforts. Volunteers offer assistance in our gift shop, café, as instructors, and in many other capacities. Unfortunately, as our building remained closed, many volunteer opportunities were lost and our annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon was again canceled. We are looking forward to welcoming back our volunteers next year and resuming our fun tradition of the Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.
The Franklin High School Honor Society hosted the annual Spring Fling as a drive-thru at the Senior Center this year. The students provided a delicious dinner to-go, as well as a gift bag.
The Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s Church offered its third Pie Lottery to benefit older adults by requesting parishioners donate a pie to an elder. The parish donated 103 pies to elders at the Center who were very happy to receive them.
Some further conveniences offered at the Senior Center include:
•Ben’s Bounty Gift Shop
•Free Medical Equipment Loans
•Free Franklin Connection Newsletter
•Free Use of Fitness Equipment
•Low Vision devices, equipment, technology and training
The Franklin Council on Aging and Senior Center staff would like to recognize the dedication of Karen Alves who retired from the position of Senior Center Director after 19 years of service. Karen was an integral part of the growth and success of the center and worked tirelessly to enrich the lives of Franklin’s elder population. We wish her all the best in her retirement.