Akila Gibbs

Akila Gibbs is the executive director of the Pasadena Senior Center.

During President Biden’s recent State of the Union address, he pointed to great progress against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He explained how America’s response to COVID-19 since the pandemic began has been mostly to remain in constant emergency mode. His new plan, he announced, is a roadmap to help fight COVID-19 in the future as we move from crisis mode to a more measured plan for prevention and treatment of, and protection against, the potentially deadly virus that has claimed more than 800,000 American lives. In other words, a new normal.

The Pasadena Senior Center is glad to see the Biden administration making the transition from jumping from never-ending crisis mode to putting new knowledge about COVID-19 to work in a more methodical way. PSC staff and volunteers have been working in a reasoned, methodical mode since COVID-19 began. 

Before COVID-19, PSC offered dozens of activities on-site every month. Once the pandemic reached the Los Angeles area, PSC sprang into action, learned about Zoom and began offering most of these same activities virtually. The center is an independent, donor-supported nonprofit.

For more than 60 years the Pasadena Senior Center has answered the call to meet challenges head on. Many of our members and other older adults had never experienced live video communications. After we helped them understand how simple Zoom is to use, most learned to adapt to it, and once they did, they were hooked. In the past two years, they have been able to stay connected to PSC and their regular activity mates, make new friends and transition comfortably from boomers to zoomers.

And now, we are just beginning to bring back some on-site activities. In other words, returning to the traditional normal. Of course, the latest COVID-19 protocols are observed. 

Our new normal, however, continues in many ways, with plenty of activities still offered via Zoom. From classes and lectures to arts and culture activities and more, our new normal continues to thrive in alternative ways that do not require a trip to PSC. Many have expressed a desire for this technology-based delivery of programs to continue even if the pandemic ever comes to an end. 

During this time of occasional — and sometimes long-term — isolation of older adults at home, it is critical for them to stay as actively engaged as possible to avoid or reduce depression, loneliness and boredom. This especially is relevant because adults 65 and older are most vulnerable to the virus.

The Pasadena Senior Center’s Zoom offerings, which can be done at home with the power of technology, rise to this challenge and provide live, online activities that nurture the body, mind and spirit. 

For example, there are classes that feature exercise, art and other activities; music education workshops; arts and culture events; social hours; holiday celebrations; and even cosmic cocktail hours when people can sit back and relax with their favorite beverages while learning something new each month about the universe beyond our own Milky Way. 

To anyone whose older loved ones are isolated due to COVID-19 and feeling helpless and depressed, please reach out to them and tell them what the Pasadena Senior Center has to offer. Residency in Pasadena is not required to participate, and most activities are open to members as well as nonmembers of PSC.

In the meantime, the Pasadena Senior Center will continue to deliver services as we have done for two years now in our new normal. For a full list of current classes, events and activities via Zoom or on-site at PSC, please visit pasadenaseniorcenter.org or call 626-795-4331.