It’s hard enough to keep up with preparing nutritious meals at home when we’re young. Fast-forward to being 60, 70 or 80 years old, and the weight of the daily ritual can become too much.
That’s why Arlington County runs three Social 60+ Café locations around the County, places where Arlingtonians 60 years of age or older can stop by for a hot noontime meal Monday through Friday. The cafés are located at three of Arlington’s senior centers — Arlington Mill, Langston-Brown and Walter Reed.
In addition to a nutritious meal, the cafés provide opportunities to socialize, learn and get connected with health, transportation and other resources. It’s one many County initiatives to help older adults stay safe, independent and thriving.
“The Social 60+ Café is really all about helping our seniors stay healthy, social and active,” said Lauren Brooks, 55+ Operations and Nutrition Supervisor for the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s Office of Senior Adults, which runs the cafés.
“We routinely hear from family members and caretakers that coming to the Social 60+ Café has had a noticeable effect on their older loved ones,” Brooks said. “One daughter said that once her mother started coming regularly, her happiness improved dramatically. ‘I’m convinced that my mother’s attendance has prolonged her life,’ she told us.”
When seniors come to a Social 60+ Café for the first time, it isn’t just a meal and company they receive. Staff ask about other needs or interests and connect attendees with available resources, whether it’s a health screening, information on nutrition or meal planning or finding a group of like-minded peers to spend time with.
On any given day, about a hundred Arlingtonians stop by one of the three Social 60+ Café sites. Some are regulars while others drop in occasionally. Some days bring organized shopping trips while others bring impromptu game-days. Educational lectures, foreign language lessons and seated stretching or strength training classes can also be part of the mix.
And Brooks says you don’t have to come to the Social 60+ Café to take advantage of all the County offers. She encourages any senior who’s looking for support of any kind to call or stop by any of the County’s five senior centers.
“We have opportunities for anyone with any interest,” Brooks said. “We’re always happy to help point people in the direction of a program or service or activity that can make their life better!”
More Ways to Connect
Arlington’s Social 60+ Café is a great way to connect, but it’s far from the only resource available to older Arlingtonians. Here are a few others:
- Basic healthcare and food. Medicare counseling, mental health services, home nursing and adult day health care coordinated through the County’s Department of Human Services. Home-delivered meals through Meals on Wheels, free supplemental grocery items through the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), and farmers market coupons for low-income seniors. And emergency pet care through the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (703-931-9241 x200).
- Personal safety and well-being. Free home safety checks and installation of free smoke alarms through your local fire station (703-228-4644). Money management, legal resources and caregiver resources through various agencies and non-profits. Daily check-in service by phone through CareRing (703-516-6764). Round-the-clock phone access to community medical and social services, operated by Virginia Hospital Center (703-558-6849). Investigation services for complaints by residents in long-term care settings.
- Transportation. Accompanied transportation to and from medical appointments, discounted taxi rides, and weekly trips for grocery shopping from various agencies and non-profit organizations.
- Housing. Rental assistance for low income seniors through the County’s Housing Grants Program (703-228-1350) and affordable housing counseling from the Department of Human Services (703-228-1700).
- Learning and technology. Books by Mail for homebound individuals, large print books and Talking Books for those with visual or hearing impairments, and technology access and training — all free through the Arlington Public Library.