Candlewood Valley Health & Rehabilitation in New Milford is offering a variety of initiatives to keep its residents and community members engaged during the pandemic.

“During the current COVID-19 pandemic it has been a challenge for community seniors to stay connected,” said Melissa Marici, director of community outreach at CVHR. “They have been so isolated and in need of not only the basics like food and transportation, but also in need of human interaction and activities to keep their days filled with something other than concern and worry.”

The skilled care facility is offer periodic Zoom many covering topics such as acupuncture benefits, home care, managing menopause weight, hospice and more. The public is invited to participate.

Future programs will include “Managing Menopause Weight” with health coach Patti Garland Oct. 8 at 1:30 p.m.; “Don’t be Scammed” with Detective Syan and Officer Parziale with New Milford Police Department Oct. 15 at 10:30 a.m.; “Alzheimer’s Holiday Tips” with CVHR social worker Cindy LeCour Nov. 12 at noon; and “Thrift Shopping Tips to Restyle Your Home & Life” with designer Gina Lacey Nov. 10 at 4 p.m.

To register for one of the programs, email mmarici@candlewoodvalley.com or call 860-355-0971, ext. 11.

In addition, a monthly Alzheimer’s Support Group is offered via Zoom the first Wednesday of each month at noon.

To register for the group, call LeCour at 860-355-0971, ext. 13.

“In reaction to the two-week lockdown, that has now grown into more than half of a year of staying home for many seniors, creativity has been key to developing programs to help lift spirits and keep our community connected,” said David Segal, CVHR administrator.

“Through our programs such as the grocery wish lists, craft bags, health packs, activity boxes, grab and go lunches, and educational and fun Zoom classes, we have been able to offer seniors throughout our surrounding communities a way to feel connected and a reason to shower-up and pop into their car or tune into a Zoom program.”

Diane Bryant has participated in Zoom programs.

“I’ve been listening in on many of the Zoom videos… because I can’t stand being alone anymore,” she said. “At first, I only knew how to call in from my phone, which was fine. I would just listen in.”

“Then the woman at CVHR taught me how to use the video,” she said. “It’s so easy I can’t believe I was afraid to do it. Now I have my new friends and I have been on their cooking zoom and the crafting Zooms.”

“I’m looking forward to the Oct. 15 program where the police detective will teach seniors how not to get scammed,” she said.

Linda Frame, an outreach volunteer who helped with the first COVID-19 Health & Happiness Care Park initiative at CVH said “volunteers have been essential to execute many of these newly developed programs.”

“CVHR just didn’t have the staffing to keep up with the initial care package program that was offered to all seniors centers, adult day care centers and community-based organizations serving seniors within a 15-mile radius of CVHR in New Milford,” Frame said. “Within 30 days our volunteer team, called ‘SOS’ for Senior Outreach Squad, helped to assemble and deliver 1,000 care packages to senior facilities and we matched that number the following month.”

The Tribury Rotary of Woodbury-Southbury-Middlebury teamed up with CVHR to develop some of the community Zoom enrichment programs.

“All of the programs are presented by specialists in their fields,” said Irene Hanley, president of the Tribury Rotary. “They provide a way for seniors, as well as younger community members, to feel connected and to learn new things together.

“We are finding that new friendships are blooming, and existing relationships are being kept close within these Zoom sessions,” Frame said. We will continue to work together for as long as COVID-19 safety guidelines are in place—and hopefully thereafter too.”

Josie Barrett, who resides at a senior living apartment in New Milford, was initially a recipient of a Health & Happiness care package and has since become a SOS volunteer at CVHR.

“It’s as rewarding as it is meaningful work,” Barrett said. “Every day we strive to make life for our community seniors

For more information on any of CVHR’s community outreach programs, please contact Melissa Marici at 860-355-0971 ext. 11 or mmarici@candlewoodvalley.com.