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Athens Senior Center

Most of Limestone County's senior centers will begin reopening to senior residents in June, according to officials, but they aren't resuming all normal operations just yet.

Each of the county's five nutrition centers will open for activities from 10 a.m. until noon Tuesdays and Thursdays starting June 1. Limestone County Council on Aging Director Susan McGrady said it's a step forward, and it's one they are thrilled about.

"Things aren't going to look quite the same as they did a year ago, but it's still a step forward," she said. "We've missed everyone being there."

Limestone County has seven centers for senior residents, five of which serve as nutrition centers. During the pandemic, they've averaged about 1,400 meals a week for seniors across the county through the Meals on Wheels program, with another 40 seniors receiving food bags with ingredients for a home-cooked meal, personal protection equipment, cleaning supplies and more delivered to them at home.

For seniors who struggle to feed themselves and might not otherwise see another face without the senior centers' visit that day, the service is vital.

"We had so many people that went to the center not just for the meal but for socialization," McGrady said. "They went from something they did everyday to being at home, especially the ones that didn't have transportation."

Transportation remains one of the things on hold due to the pandemic, but McGrady and others involved at the senior center are glad to at least announce the return of activities and socialization opportunities at five of the centers. Because the Goodsprings and Ardmore centers are not designated as nutrition centers, they will stay closed for the time being.

Seniors can visit the Athens, East Limestone, Elkmont, Owens or Tanner center for movie days, games, bingo, horseshoes, cornhole, quilting, the SAIL exercise program and possibly even live musical entertainment. At noon, when it's time for the centers to close, seniors will be given a midday meal they can take home with them.

McGrady encouraged seniors who are able to drive to invite a friend or start a carpool so that seniors who cannot drive are still able to visit while they await new guidelines from the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

"Hopefully, that will be soon," McGrady said, adding the Council on Aging typically provides transportation for doctor's visits, shopping and visiting a senior center.

Due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, visitors will still be required to wear masks, social distance, and have their temperatures checked at the centers. McGrady said the Council on Aging works regularly with the Limestone County Commission, the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments' Area Agency on Aging and ADSS about how best to keep seniors safe and served as they move closer to a full reopening.

Seniors are encouraged to follow their local senior center or the Limestone County Council on Aging on Facebook for updates. They can also call their local center or 256-233-6412.

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