Hendricks County Senior Services Helps a Variety of Demographics
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
When Helee Adkins’ neighbor passed away, the family of the deceased invited Adkins over to show her a giant photo album filled with wonderful memories, many of which involved Hendricks County Senior Services (HCSS) and the Hendricks County Senior Center, which is operated by HCSS. Adkins, the resource development coordinator for HCSS, had become great friends with the man who died as well as his late wife. Both were in their mid-90s when they passed, and Adkins was thrilled that the Senior Center had become their second home.
“In their younger years, he deejayed at the Center and she was a line dance teacher,” Adkins says. “Flipping through that photo album, it was clear how many lives we have touched through the years.”
HCSS, which opened in 1978, is devoted to helping seniors remain independent in the home of their choice. Some people who hear the word “senior” envision a feeble individual who is frail, confused or incapacitated. The truth of the matter is that the definition of “senior” is relative.
“We have active seniors of all ages,” Adkins says. “For instance, we have those who are raring to go on the Alaskan cruise we are coordinating. We also serve individuals who require assistance with transportation, exercise and meals.”
The common thread is making sure seniors aged 60 and above are not living in isolation. Adkins describes HCSS as a giant melting pot.
“There’s a place for everyone to find what they love to do and enjoy doing it with others,” Adkins says.
The Senior Center offers health screenings, lunches, and fitness classes such as chair yoga and line dancing. There are also recreational activities including crafts, bingo, cards and woodcarving. There’s also educational programming including seminars, support groups and workshops, in addition to social opportunities from morning coffee to week-long trips. This year, in addition to the Alaskan cruise, they’re planning excursions to Charleston, South Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee. In the past they have been to Maine and Branson, Missouri. All trips are planned by the activities coordinator, which takes the pressure off of seniors who don’t have to sweat the details of driving, booking accommodations and figuring out entertainment.
“It’s awesome,” Adkins says. “You pay the amount and then don’t have to think another thing about it.”
For those who are newly retired, single or widowed, the Senior Center is a great resource to help them continue to live life in a fun, fulfilling way. The HCSS is also a resource to caregivers.
“Oftentimes, until you are put in a caregiving situation, you don’t know what you need,” Adkins says. “We guide caregivers as they help their loved ones through the aging process.”
It’s not unusual for older relatives to visit their children over the holidays, and during that visit their children might notice changes in cognitive or physical abilities.
“They see these changes and don’t know where to start or how to get help,” says Adkins, who oversees a Dementia Friends Workshop at the Senior Center where she shares the difference between normal aging and dementia. “We can listen and provide suggestions for what to do or where to go for resources. Dementia is a group of symptoms that affects memory and thinking. People get confused by that, as they think dementia is the disease. The disease is actually labeled as Alzheimer’s, vascular, or Lewy body dementia.”
“I teach how to best communicate with someone that has a dementia-related disease,” she continues. “We’re working hard to help make Hendricks County dementia-friendly, so we also offer private classes to companies and organizations that are looking to provide ongoing education for their employees.”
Several years ago the Community Foundation did a Hendricks County community needs assessment. According to the study, the number of people 65 and older in Hendricks County is projected to grow by 18% between 2020 and 2025, which is significantly above the 3% increase expected for the total population of Indiana. Seniors are flocking to Hendricks County, and there are many reasons including affordable taxes, great housing options, proximity to top-notch health care, and access to wonderful recreation and fitness options, parks and trail systems.
Membership to HCSS is $55 per year, per person (plus it’s a tax-deductible donation). This enables members to participate in activities and programs, and also receive discounts if there are fees for certain program activities.
The HCSS team is always looking for additional volunteers to help with front-desk administrative support, kitchen assistance to serve hot lunches, food pantry assistance, and event set-up and tear-down. They also recently created a “germ buster” volunteer position for those who want to come in during off hours to sanitize. In addition, they utilize specially trained volunteers to help with Medicare counseling as well as fraud and scam prevention.
“If you’ve retired from one of those fields, this could be your niche,” Adkins says. “This is a safe and rewarding place to volunteer.”
HCSS front-desk volunteer Juanita Komlanc agrees.
“I was amazed when I started volunteering at how much HCSS had to offer,” Komlanc says. “The staff is so kind to all of the seniors that come in, and treats them with great respect and dignity.”
On April 21, HCSS will host a fundraiser at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds, during which 120 people will play musical chairs.
“We’ll have a professional deejay, an emcee and an official referee,” Adkins says. “It’ll be a bracketed, double-elimination event that’s open to 280 spectators.”
Sponsored by Hendricks Power Cooperative, the event will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and will include beer and wine as well as appetizers and desserts. Adkins hopes that through fundraisers and word of mouth, the community will continue to learn all about what HCSS has to offer.
“We’re here to serve and we want to help, whether that be the older adult, caregivers or community members trying to help their neighbors,” Adkins says. “We want to continue to help people gracefully age in place.”
Hendricks County Senior Services is located at 1201 Sycamore Lane in Danville. For more information, call 317-745-4303 or visit hcseniors.org.