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Lunch Bunch Program Provides Socialization to Seniors and Give a Break to Caregivers

At every age, we want to feel loved and connected to others. It is part of being human. But as we age, it’s easy to become isolated; and without someone encouraging us to socialize, we don’t make the effort. That’s when feelings of isolation can turn into depression.

On the other hand, when we are caring for an aging parent or if we are professional caregivers, the responsibility can feel overwhelming. Caregivers often need a break but refuse to take one, and that can lead to depression, too.

At the Ukiah Senior Center, we have a solution to both problems: it’s called the “Lunch Bunch” and it gives seniors a chance to socialize and caregivers a chance to rest. We accept seniors who have dementia, but because of our limited staff, we keep the environment pleasant for everyone by requiring participants to be emotionally stable and able to take care of their personal hygiene needs.

The Lunch Bunch includes a hot meal and some entertainment. Meals are of the “meat and potato” variety, and entertainment includes activities like playing BINGO, working on crossword puzzles, watching television shows like The Little Rascals or Red Skelton, or listening to music by artists like the Righteous Brothers.

The Lunch Bunch runs from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. We can pick up participants on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday through our door-to-door bus service (in the Ukiah area).  We provide lunch, gentle exercise, games and entertainment all for only $25 a day.  There may be scholarships available for those who qualify.

I know getting dad out of his recliner can be a chore, but if you can get him here once, you may be surprised when he’s ready and waiting with his cap on the next time it’s time to go. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a reluctant participant become a regular.

According to the AARP, research published in Psychology Today indicates that the need for social connection is rooted in our basic urge to survive, and is wired into the neurons in our brains. “We became a dominant species because of our ability to form social connections and because our brains expanded to meet this need,” they said. The AARP also explained why caregivers feel isolated:

Caregiving often triggers isolation. The number of people providing unpaid care for a friend or relative rose 23 percent — to 54 million — between 2004 to 2009, and that number continues to grow. Caregivers often work by themselves, and more than half say they have less time for friends and family. Studies show that up to 70 percent of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression.

The Lunch Bunch is just one way to combat depression. The Ukiah Senior Center offers many activities, workshops, services and support for seniors and caregivers. You can visit or call us at 462-4343 to learn more.

If you’re interested in having fun and helping the Senior Center, join us on May 17 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm for the Helping Hands Fashion Show fundraiser. For $5, you can enjoy delicious appetizers while you watch a fashion show, and then bid on silent auction items to raise funds for the Center. There will be great deals on everything from dinner for two to a dental exam to pet boarding to yard maintenance. And that’s just for starters.

Contact Us

(707) 462-4343

499 Leslie St, Ukiah, CA 95482

The Ukiah Senior Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Tax ID# 23-7258082.

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