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Local organization helps seniors live independently

ORLANDO, Fla. – For more than five decades, a special organization in Central Florida has been getting results for thousands of families, specifically the elderly community.

Seniors First helps enhance the quality of life of the senior community by keeping them independent for as long as they can. 

At L. Claudia Allen Senior Center, it's game day pretty much every day. 

"Being a senior, it's nice to be able to come some place, you forget about your age and you know, you have an ache or pain here and there because everybody does, we put all that to the side," Ruqaiyah Farrar, a Seniors First client, said.

She's part of the neighborhood lunch program developed by Seniors First. In 14 Orange County Center, seniors come together Monday through Friday to enjoy a game of Pokeno or UNO and a nice conversation.

"It allows them to socialize with people of their own age, backgrounds, gets them out of the house, gives them some reason to get up in the morning -- really, really helps increase their longevity, their happiness, decreases the isolation and depression,"  Vice President and CEO of Seniors First Marsha Lorenz said. "Our goal is to combat isolation, combat hunger and increase their ability to remain independent -- to keep them out of a nursing home or keep them out of assisted living and help them stay in their home environment for as long as possible." 

Lucy Guzman and her 94-year-old mother look forward to working out and spending quality time at the table every day.

"The people that come here, like my neighbor right here at the table, they're so warm and friendly. They're so supportive. It helps the community because it feeds the community healthy food, healthy mind, healthy spirit. They take us on all kinds of trips and it's just fantastic," Guzman said.

Seniors First also gets results for those who can't afford expensive medical equipment through the Stepping Stone medical equipment bank.

"Not a lot of our individuals in this community have $150 and $200 of disposable income with nothing to do with it, it's already earmarked for something else, medication, food or just paying their rent. We are here when you've been told no. You come to Stepping Stone, anything that exists within our building, the answer is yes. If you can't afford it we'll find a grant program to pay for it for you. It has just been a life changer, to see them now being vibrant members of society. They're shopping, they're out with their grandchildren, they're enjoying life. They're not just going through life but they're actually living life," Wayne Gardner, senior director said. 

Seniors First has programs that assist people living in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties
but every county offers services, ranging from assistance with meals to transportation, to even handyman help in some cases.

Here are a few websites where you can get more information about senior services in your county.

agingmattersbrevard.org
www.coavolusia.org
www.flaglercounty.org
www.marionseniorservices.org
lccoa.businesscatalyst.com
www.seniorresourcealliance.org
www.osceolagenerations.org


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