Pandemic leaves Ottawa County seniors, caregivers struggling with loneliness

OTTAWA COUNTY — When COVID-19 closed down life as we knew it in March 2020, business owners lamented lost sales, employees struggled with unexpected layoffs and families everywhere closed their circles. But one community felt forgotten by many: senior citizens.

When nonprofit Senior Resources of West Michigan began reaching out to seniors, caregivers and providers about future funding in 2022, the organization found needs have changed. Increased loneliness, lengthy waitlists and caregiver fatigue remain critical problems.

According to Senior Resources — which serves Ottawa, Oceana and Muskegon counties — Ottawa County has 60,334 residents over the age of 60. Five percent of those residents report either living with or having responsibility for their grandchildren. Five percent are below the poverty level.

Amy Florea, community services director with Senior Resources, said increasing costs are particularly frustrating for seniors looking to “age-in-place.”

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