The Madison Heights Active Adult Center has suspended its on-site programming and closed its building for now, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Madison Heights Active Adult Center has suspended its on-site programming and closed its building for now, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Madison Heights Active Adult Center adapts to pandemic

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 24, 2020

 The Madison Heights Active Adult Center still maintains services for seniors in need, including food pickup and delivery, transportation to and from places such as the store and doctor, and even phone call check-ins with seniors to make sure they’re OK and to see  how they’re doing.

The Madison Heights Active Adult Center still maintains services for seniors in need, including food pickup and delivery, transportation to and from places such as the store and doctor, and even phone call check-ins with seniors to make sure they’re OK and to see how they’re doing.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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MADISON HEIGHTS — The Madison Heights Active Adult Center, or AAC, caters to a wide range of people, including older individuals who may be more susceptible to the coronavirus.

As such, the building at 29448 John R Road remains closed to the public, as it has since March 12. But its services continue in other ways, adapting to the present moment.

“The AAC is normally a bustling place full of people coming to partake in our onsite programs, (including) classes, activities, events, field trips and our congregate lunches,” said Jennifer Cowan, AAC coordinator, in an email. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic … the AAC had to revisit the way we engage with our senior citizens. Our programming instantaneously changed from being an in-person social experience to an entirely online, telephone, email or mailing correspondence.”

The AAC continues to take calls at its main number, (248) 545-3464, and replies to emails, guiding patrons to assistance as needed. The AAC has been running food pickups and drop-offs in collaboration with Focus Hope, as well as curbside medical equipment loans. The AAC has also been providing bus transportation for senior residents, bringing them to and from essential places such as the grocery store, bank, post office and doctor’s office. A volunteer in the front office even conducts more than 45 “reassurance calls” every week, checking in on anyone who has requested a call, making sure that they have all they need, or “just chatting to elevate their spirit,” Cowan said.

The AAC also maintains its own monthly newsletter, which was recently revamped with a focus on resources to help seniors during the pandemic. Editions of the newsletter have been archived at madison-heights.org/279/Active-Adult-Center.

“When the pandemic began, we immediately began gathering information on resources and compiled a list that included essentials our patrons might need during this time, such as where to get a food box, face masks, hand sanitizer, transportation, a support meeting or medical equipment,” Cowan said. “We also packed our newsletter full of activities they can safely do at home, as this age demographic is highly susceptible to the virus. We included fun mental challenges, recipes, journal prompts and creative art activities, all of which took into consideration how our readers would be using only items they had on hand.”

Cowan thanked the center’s many class instructors who stepped up by volunteering their time to offer free online classes in Zumba, chair yoga, strength training, art therapy, writing and cooking. The calendars in the newsletter and at the center’s website detail the virtual classes that take place throughout the week and how to access them online.

“We later discovered that some people had difficulty logging into the virtual software, or didn’t prefer the online classes, so we recently created a YouTube channel where all of the class videos can be accessed at any time,” Cowan said.

The YouTube channel can be found by going to youtube.com and searching “Madison Heights Active Adult Center.”

Cowan encouraged everyone to remain patient while the AAC plays it safe with regard to reopening the building and resuming on-site programming.

“While we would love to open the doors and invite everyone back to the AAC, we know that is not in everyone’s best interest at this time. The city will continue to follow health advisories and government guidelines, and adjust our services in phases,” Cowan said. “Our intent is to initially open for the more essential services, followed by smaller group programs, and further down the road the larger group programs. Limited computer and exercise equipment use will eventually be scheduled by appointment, but of course that is all tentative and subject to change as our health and government officials advise the city administration on best practices going forward.”

She said that when the AAC does eventually reopen, there will be safety precautions in place such as requiring patrons to have their temperature taken, wear face coverings, maintain social distancing practices, and be symptom free. Staff will sanitize equipment between uses, and there will be custodial cleanings overnight.

“We would like to let all of our patrons know how much we miss them,” Cowan added. “The AAC is just not the same without them. We miss our conversations, our outings, and just seeing their smiling faces. We would like to thank everyone for their understanding and kind words.”

Corey Almas, the director of public services for the city of Madison Heights, commended Cowan’s thoughtful approach amid the pandemic.

“Jennifer is extremely compassionate … and has done a remarkable job of looking out for (the patrons’) well-being. She is cherished by those who frequent the AAC, and a tremendous asset to the city of Madison Heights,” Almas said. “I owe a great debt of gratitude to Jennifer, as well as the AAC staff, bus drivers and volunteers for their selflessness and hard work throughout the pandemic.”

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