Montana seniors face serious social challenges during pandemic

Posted at 7:30 AM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 09:30:07-04

BOZEMAN — The doors at the Bozeman Senior Center have been closed for a while as we continue navigating through this pandemic.

But for senior Bozeman residents, not having access to this place is crucial.

“They want to interact with people, so for them not being able to interact it’s caused people to be lonely. It’s caused people to be very depressed. There’s suicidal things going on now,” explained Debi Casagranda, the volunteer coordinator at the Bozeman Senior Center.

Casagranda works directly with the seniors who were volunteering at the Bozeman Senior Center.

“My job is very lonely now just because I don’t have volunteers or I don’t get to see them,” she said.

There’s been no social interaction for months because of the pandemic and the high-risk the virus poses to older residents.

“Seniors aren’t techy. They can’t Facetime somebody. They can’t do a Zoom call. You know a lot of them still have flip phones or home phones, so it’s very hard for them to still be in contact with different people,” Casagranda explained.

Which in turn makes going through a pandemic even more difficult.

“It can be challenging to get them hooked up with the help center or Senior Reach to make sure it doesn’t go as far as those terrible deep thoughts,” she said.

This story focuses on the older Bozeman population, but there’s still a message for all residents.

“Think that it’s your grandparents or your parents, and so, you want to do what’s best for your family so you want to stay six feet apart. You want to wear a mask when you’re in public and make sure that you’re being safe so that these seniors can come out of their house, socialize and go back to volunteering,” she said.

There are several ways that you can help seniors in this community. Contact HRDC for more information at (406) 585-4840.