WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — More than 4 million people in North Carolina are over the age of 60.
State health officials expect that number to reach nearly 6.5 million by the year 2040. Every county offers some level of help for its aging population, but Winston-Salem Senior Services is trying to bring everything for older adults under one roof.
The agency’s goal may seem small, but to an older adult who could be facing life in a nursing home, the mission is priceless. Senior Services President and CEO Lee Covington says, “The focus is helping older adults in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County remain in their homes for as long as possible, aging with dignity and living with purpose.”
Senior Services has been in Winston-Salem since 1962. Its most well-known program for older adults is Meals on Wheels. It currently serves more than 1100 people. Volunteers pack up meals and deliver them daily to homes.
There’s also the Williams Adult Day Care Center where people can practice chair yoga, play board games, and listen to live bands. But one of the most important activities is simply social interaction.
“COVID really heightened what we already knew which was that a lot of older adults are living in isolation and they’re lonely,” says Covington. He says support from the Winston-Salem Foundation is making it possible to build a new Intergenerational Center for Arts and Wellness. The building will transform services as a place where older adults and their families can find help and resources all under one roof.
“It’s one of a kind not only in North Carolina but we believe in the U.S., Covington says. “It will be the new home for our day center, for one of our senior lunch programs as well as 20 partnering organizations.”
Covington says it’s hard for many older adults to take that first step to ask for help. He hopes the new center will bring more people in to explore their options earlier so that no one falls through the cracks. We encourage folks if you have any questions, or any need at all, go ahead and reach out, it’s okay. And maybe you decide then that you’re not ready for that level of help or support, and that’s fine, but it’s better to reach out early and know kind of what lies ahead.”
And with the right resources, people who’ve lived in their homes for decades can stay there.
“That’s where they want to be, and they want to be there until their last breath. And that’s really why we exist – to help them do that.”
Construction on the new Intergenerational Center should be done in six or seven weeks. A ribbon cutting and open house is set for November 17.
Senior Services is located on Shorefair Drive in Winston-Salem