MEMPHIS, Tenn. —
Seniors are getting creative during this pandemic thanks to a program by the Shelby County Health Department and Shelby County Government.
Just in time for the holidays, seniors are learning to navigate the digital landscape and make technology relevant to their daily lives. The program provides resources to nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the Mid-South.
When the COVID-19 pandemic happened, these types of facilities closed, making it very difficult for the elderly and their families.
“There was a time that I was worried, I was worried about my residents because they were starting to get depressed and I was like Lord I don’t know what to do because I can’t risk their safety and then he just worked it out,” said Willene Jennings, Administrator of Jenn Care Home for the Aged.
Jennings was contacted about a new program called Senior Tech Connect, started by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and the Shelby County Health Department and she was asked to apply.
The program provides funding to those facilities to buy digital devices.
“After I applied it took about 2 weeks to receive the money and of course you lay out your plan, how you plan on doing your visual visitations and how you would spend the money,” Jennings said.
Her nursing home received a $5,000 grant from the county to help purchase devices such as laptops, tablets and equipment her residents could use to contact their families.
“I mean they are enjoying it. They said they can’t touch them, but they said this is the next best thing,” Jennings explained.
It’s something that couldn’t have been done without Shelby County’s assistance.
“The office of Mayor Lee Harris is doing a whole host of programs to benefit individuals affected by this virus in our county and with a particular emphasis on vulnerable populations,” said Frankie Dakin, Special Assistant to Mayor Lee Harris for Community Affairs.
“It’s so easy for the elderly to get depressed,” Jennings said. We don’t want them to get depressed. We don’t want them to feel distraught, forgotten.”