Watertown will be offering its seniors rides when they want them for trips to the doctor, to get groceries and more in a pilot program using a grant provided by the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging.
Currently, seniors have access to rides through a smartphone app, but that has worked for everyone, said Lydia McCoy, Watertown’s Director of Senior Services said at the Senior Center Holiday Lunch on Dec. 15.
“Not everyone knows how to use a rideshare app, not everyone has a smart phone and it’s not so easy to always navigate,” McCoy said. “With this program you can dial, using a (regular) phone, you can dial a toll free number, and they will coordinate a ride for you. If you have a caregiver or emergency contact, that person will be able to track your whereabouts, your arrivals.”
Along with rides, the service will provide ambulatory service, hot meal delivery, grocery shopping, and prescription delivery, McCoy said.
“We are really grateful for this partnership,” she said.
Another program made possible with the support of the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging (MACOA), McCoy said, is an outreach program to 490 seniors living in two of the Watertown Housing Authority’s buildings: 55 Waverley Ave. and 100 Warren St.
Elizabeth Connell, executive director of the MACOA, said Watertown competed with 288 other grant proposals from 223 other communities across the state. She said it helps with one of her organization’s focuses.
“Social isolation and loneliness is an epidemic,” Connell said. “These programs are going to provide connections to people who might otherwise not have any. This is important. We know social connection improves your quality of life and, they are saying now, the quantity of your life.”
Connell also praised McCoy for her vision.
“Your Senior Center, your Council on Aging is extremely fortunate to have the director you have,” she said. “Lydia McCoy, she understands how critical the social connections are to your health and your wellbeing.”
The Senior Center also runs rides for groceries, shopping, restaurants, and other destinations through the Senior Shuttle, said City Manager George Proakis.
“The senior shuttle does about 20 rides per month, providing seniors throughout the year with destinations from museums, malls, restaurants and ethnic markets, to shopping trips to Market Basket, Stop & Shop, Trader Joe’s, Burlington Mall, Olive Garden, and (Ken’s) Steakhouse,” Proakis said. “These trips have been really important to provide access to essential services for seniors, and thanks to our Senior Center team and our bus drivers for keeping that going and more to come in 2024.”