By Adam Armour/Itawamba County Times
FULTON – “You just don’t know about us senior citizens,” said Louise Grimes of Fulton as she scanned her bingo card. She marked a couple of numbers and continued. “We have more fun now than when we were teenagers.”
Looking up from her seat inside Region III’s new Senior Activity Center in downtown Fulton, she nodded at her friend, Melissie Standifer, who sat nearby.
“This is just a great place for a senior to come,” Grimes said. “It keeps you from feeling bad about yourself. It keeps my mind occupied.”
Standifer nodded in agreement.
“It beats looking at the four walls and the TV,” Standifer added curtly, then marked a number on her card.
From the next table, Senior Activity Center manager Roxanne Adams looked up from her card game with several other senior citizens and laughed.
“These are the people who make me really want to do this,” she said. “They really want this program.”
The center is designed to be a place where the elderly – age 50 and above and Medicaid recipients – can go to get out of the house, socialize and enjoy fun and, oftentimes, rehabilitating games. It’s a free service that runs every day from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Lunch is served, and transportation to and from the center is provided.
Adams is the center’s sole employee and the heart beating at the center of the program. She does a little bit of everything there – from driving the van to leading the games to cleaning the toilets. Effervescent and eager to talk about the program, Adams was quick to tout the benefits of the center.
“A lot of our clients have no means of getting out,” she said. “They’re in the house all day long, staring at four walls. This is a place they can come, socialize and be active – still feel like they’re part of society. That makes them happy, prolongs their lives and just gives them a better outlook.”
At its core, the center is about providing stimulation through social interaction and various activities. Adams said many of their clients suffer from various forms of emotional or psychological maladies. She tries to help some of these problems through games and activities.
“We find out what their issues are – whether it be dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression – and we design activities and games to try to alleviate some of those problems so that they’ll be able to function a little bit better,” Adams said.
For example, she said a patient suffering from dementia, which often causes memory loss, might benefit from a simple game involving rolling a ball.
“Before I roll the ball, I’ll say the name of the person I’m going to roll the ball to,” she said. “Then that person says someone else’s name and rolls the ball to him. The repetitive nature of the game may seem simplistic, but it works. It helps them recall.”
Although these activities are completely optional – a person can simply come and sit if he or she chooses – Adams said she monitors and tracks how well her clients progress.
The group also takes frequent field trips to various places around town and welcomes guest speakers.
“I like to say we party with a purpose,” Adams said.
With only seven or so regular clients, the Senior Activity Center is still in its infancy. But it’s a place that Adams believes will grow if given the chance.
“I’m trying to get this program to survive because I think it’s needed here,” Adams said. “We have so many elderly people in our community, many of whom have been looking for something like this.
“You know,” she continued, “one day, I’m going to get old; I would hope something like this is here for me. I have no children, and I need a place where I can reach out to others.”
For more information on Region III’s Fulton Senior Activity Center, call (662) 862-5014.
Contact Adam Armour at (662) 862-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.