After months of social and physical isolation, members of Griffith's senior community are finally able to take back some control over their well-being. Griffith Aged Care Support has restarted its seniors Falls Prevention classes in October after COVID forced many community support services to shut down programs, leaving seniors without means of preventative health support.
"We could see it coming," Monica Beckman, social worker at Griffith Aged Care Support said.
"We were given a NSW Department of Health directive to close down classes 20th of March this year and we have only just been given clearance to start back again."
Mrs Beckman, along with colleague Yvette Pastro who runs the exercise classes had great concern for their clients during COVID, saying they noticed a significant decline in physical and cognitive health.
"They were deteriorating a lot in terms of their strength and balance and also in their confidence moving around," Mrs Pastro said.
Heightened community concern for the elderly during COVID lockdown meant that many of their clients felt frustrated and upset when members of the community approached them out of concern.
"We had clients in tears on the phone saying that when they had been out shopping or out in the street, members of the public told them they shouldn't be out and that they should go home," Mrs Pastro explained.
Older Australians have been hardest hit by COVID-19 with the majority of deaths from the virus being people aged 70 years and older. On top of this, restrictions placed on the elderly community have gone far beyond what has been placed on the general community which has resulted in isolation and extreme loneliness.
The Falls Prevention classes not only incorporate gentle exercises but also give participants much needed opportunities to socialise and connect with other members of the community.
"We feel revitalised after classes," 87 year old Gwen Muirhead said.
"Afterwards we sit down and have a cup of tea and talk together and it's just lovely being back."
"We'll all unfit," 81 year old Joan Wilmot joked.
"You can feel the difference starting again. We are quite fit for our age but eight months away from classes and not doing anything has been difficult."