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After a year of caution, senior citizens getting back out in the community

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“It’s just been a tough year, you know. We’ve lost a lot of people through the pandemic. It’s going to be…once we get back, people are going to be missing,” said Mary Bolk, a volunteer at the Burleigh County Senior Center.

After a year of caution and many hardships, things are starting to get back to normal.

“We had a pretty broad social program prior to the pandemic. We are just now starting to get back into offering those things,” said Jennifer Bandy, a fitness instructor at the Bismarck YMCA.

Bandy says their programs aren’t just about physical fitness. Getting back into these routines is good for a number of reasons.

“The other piece of it is the connection and the social aspect. And seniors sometimes become widowed, and they lose some of their family connections, children grow up and move away,” said Bandy.

“When you talk to your friends, it just makes you feel so much better,” said Linda Charbonneau, a member of Bismarck’s YMCA.

The Burleigh County Senior Center re-opened with all of its activities earlier this week. Renee Kipp tells us she’s happy to welcome everyone back.

“This is a place for them to come and see people, get a welcoming smile and a good morning. Not a hug anymore, but maybe an elbow bump and a it’s good to see you,” said Kipp, the executive director of the Adults Program.

“Oh, it’s very important. People enjoy coming here. We’ve got lots of activities going. There’s bingo, card games, yoga classes, paint classes. People call in wondering when are you going to open. I mean, they’re just tired of being at home,” said Bolk.

After a year-long pandemic, what’s some advice from one senior to another?

“Just enjoy life,” said Charbonneau.

The U.S. Census Bureau says by the year 2030, it expects that 30 percent of the state’s population will be individuals over 60.

Local organizations geared toward the elderly are doing what they can to get everything back online.

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