CASI has never stopped working on behalf of the Quad-Cities’ elderly population, even during a pandemic.
CASI, or the Center for Active Seniors, is located at 1035 Kimberly Rd., Davenport. The center may have been shut down due to COVID-19, but its team of social workers made sure thousands of older adults living in the area were not without access to food, health care and other resources.
“Although the physical facility closed, our mission never closed,” said CASI President and CEO Laura Kopp. “We continued to take the lead when it came to senior health in the community.”
The center reopened in a soft launch March 17, one year to the date it was closed due to pandemic restrictions. In-person programs are being rolled out in phases, including popular activities like on-line dancing and exercise.
At the present time there is only one entrance, where staff performs a mini health screening, including taking temperatures, of everyone entering the facility. Members have to pre-register for activities so that volunteers do not have to exchange money directly.
Kopp finds some seniors, especially those who out of fear of COVID have not left the confines of their four walls in over a year, might still be hesitant to leave home.
“People are still anxious,” she said. “We are here and ready when they are ready to come back.”
In many ways staff delivered CASI’s services to seniors where they live, constantly finding new and innovative methods of reaching the older population as COVID continued to escalate. Such efforts included expanding its home delivery meal service for those not comfortable with going into a grocery store.
“While older folks were encouraged not to leave home, we realized they did not have access to nutritious food,” Kopp said. “The meals program became even more important.”
As society adapted to telemedicine during the pandemic, CASI staff helped seniors navigate technology issues so they could meet virtually with their health care providers and stay connected.
“We played a critical part,” Kopp said. “For seven days a week an entire year we made sure our seniors had what they needed to manage pretty well.”
More recently, staff have helped 3,500 older adults get access to COVID vaccines.
First opened in 1973, CASI has a long history serving the Quad-City region. However, Kopp still encounters questions about what the center is and its many programs.
“We’ve been the Iowa Quad-Cities’ only senior center for close to 50 years,” Kopp said. “Some people don’t know or understand who and what we are. A lot think we have residents. We don’t. They don’t understand how critical it is to have programs like CASI in your community to help folks age well.”
CASI is only one of two senior centers in the state to have received national accreditation. It has close to 8,000 activities geared toward increasing socialization and improve health and wellness.
Relying on donations, CASI is bringing back its in-person fundraisers. On July 17, CASI will host the third annual “Rock the Lot” in its parking lot. The event features an outdoor concert and food court.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day 5K race, one of CASI’s biggest fundraisers, was postponed to Aug. 28 along with the parade.
“We’re really excited about that and we’d love to get the word out,” Kopp said.
By and large the senior community was hardest hit by the pandemic.
“It’s been a uniquely individual, senior health crisis,” Kopp said. “I think about the anxiety the rest of us went through, but seniors were most significantly impacted, not just illness but death overall. For many of us, that’s why we didn’t hang out with grandma and grandpa. We wanted to protect them.”
Kopp cautioned not to assume someone else is taking care of your elderly neighbor down the street.
“They don’t always have someone checking in on them making sure they’re taking their meds or getting nutritious food to eat,” she said. “It really does take a village to care for those marginalized or at risk of becoming invisible. That’s our senior population.”