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Brighton Senior Center Helps Keep Seniors Socializing And Active Through Pandemic

BOSTON (CBS) -- Seniors at the Veronica B. Senior Center in Brighton haven't missed a beat, even during a pandemic. In fact, for many like it's become a second home.

"You get some of your worth as a person just from having small interactions daily. When you are so isolated, everyone misses that," Ila Schonberg said.

81-year-old Victor Aiello says it plainly. "I hate staying home," he said.

Every day Monday through Friday, seniors like Victor make their way to Brighton Senior Center to paint, dance, eat and socialize.

For Donna Gaspar, this place is a way for her to express herself through art.

"It's everything. I don't feel afraid. I want to take my mask off. I don't dare because we are in the surge," Gaspar said.

She said she works two days a week at a candy shop and refuses to let COVID fatigue set in.

"I know a lot of people who don't go out at all," she said.

Health officials say seniors need to stay active and safe. People should look for signs for when a senior may be isolating too much.

"Withdrawn and forgetfulness. Changes in mood and loss of appetite and changes in sleep patterns. When we are forced to socially isolate, it lends itself to predisposing those who are already at higher risk for conditions like depression and anxiety," said Dr. Darshan Mehta of Mass General Hospital.

When folks come to the Brighton Senior Center, they are challenged and motivated.

"I think sometimes people underestimate how much loneliness and isolation can affect an older adult. And I think it's important to have places they come together and create and move and enjoy themselves," said Veronica B Smith Senior Center Director Lauren Basler said.

For Schonberg, who just moved here from Michigan, she gets to socialize and learn a step or two.

"I like the mental challenge of being able to follow. Also, you have train your brain to trace the steps," she said.

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