When Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued executive orders to bring Louisiana into Phase 2 of reopening in June, many local businesses and locals rejoiced at hearing the news. But, some businesses are still feeling the strain from not being able to open their doors. One such Bossier City establishment is the Bossier Council on Aging.
When Edwards first executed his executive order to close non-essential businesses in Louisiana in March, the Bossier Council on Aging had to close four senior centers across Bossier Parish: Haughton, Plain Dealing, Benton and Bossier City.
“We transferred all of our seniors that normally eat lunch at our senior centers to home-delivered meals in one day to ensure that they did not go without a meal. We also suspended our homemaker support,” said Tamara Crane, executive director of Bossier Council on Aging.
“About a week after the stay at home order went into effect, we were inundated with referrals from clients themselves, family members, both locally and out of state, home health and hospice agencies, doctors and hospitals to get on home-delivered meals.
“Shopping was hectic, shelves were empty, and our seniors were scared, so more folks were needing homebound food supports,” she added.
Since the closure of the Bossier Council on Aging has taken place, Crane says that cleaning and other projects are ongoing at each site in preparation of opening up again.
“We cleaned all of our sites right away,” she said. “We did a lot of organizing and took care of quite a few ‘honey do’ lists at each site. Our Haughton site got a new sign put up. Our Bearkat site got a facelift in the kitchen with some new cabinets, new paint on all the cabinets, railing and a countertop.”
At this time it is unknown exactly when the Bossier Council on Aging will reopen, and what changes will be expected once reopened.
“Only our senior centers are closed — we are open to provide home delivered meals, homemaker and caregiver support, transportation to medical appointments, and grocery shopping. Since our senior centers are where seniors come to “congregate,” that is still a hard ‘no’ for the most vulnerable population. We have been informed from [Louisiana Department of] Elderly Affairs that it may be October or later, depending on if we have a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall,” Crane said.
“I think it will all depend on when the Governor’s office decides to allow the reopening and what requirements the CDC is recommending at that time,” she added.
The Bossier Council on Aging is important to not just the seniors of Bossier Parish, but the community as a whole. Whether they are getting meals to seniors, taking them to medical appointments, helping with housekeeping tasks, offering respite to a caregiver or even just that weekly phone call. It all helps support the individual to remain at home living independently.
“Our seniors miss us, and actually, their friends. We have been making weekly phone calls to check on them and a lot of them talk to each other on the phone, but it is not the same as actually being across or beside someone and visiting,” Crane said.
“We are here to serve and support our seniors of Bossier Parish. Seniors must be 60 or older and have no support for the service they are requesting. [There are] no income requirements,” she added.