MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Life at The Palace Coral Gables was designed to be grand, for active senior citizens. Pamela Parker is the Social Director. She describes the pre-coronavirus atmosphere as jovial.

“We are used to having big parties every month, we are used to having morning to night activities, dinners with our friends. In an instant that all changed.”

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, group activities and cherished time with family needed to be altered.

“We have offered social distance outdoor meetings where there is distance between family, then when the numbers spiked then we offered them through a glass door.”

She and her staff jumped into action to ward off the effects of isolation.

“We knew that in order to keep them totally healthy, body as well as mind, we had to make sure that they are occupied. We’ve provided games, yarn for our knitters, adult coloring, jigsaw puzzles, anything that they wanted we made sure that they would have in their apartments.”

Many busy residents have embraced the upside.

Sisters Doris Cynamon and Helen Scharps head the knitters club. They’ve fashioned 100 newborn blankets to donate to local hospitals once restrictions are lifted.

Known as the ‘cookie lady,’ Sandy Davis gives away batches of homemade treats to many, including first responders.

And we heard from Margaret Steele, who, in her golden years, found another silver lining.

Margaret Steele plays the piano at The Palace Coral Gables. (Courtesy: The Palace Coral Gables)

“I have been very dependent on my hobbies to keep me busy. I paint, and I enjoy that, and I play the piano. I had not played in 75 years and I practice every day for an hour now.”

Steele also has a hand in another musical ensemble.

“I now am in bells playing little bells we have such a group, big group, and everybody dies laughing.  Emphasizing fun, and celebrating is a big priority.

For 100 years young Lillian Pierorazio, all the residents were able to enjoy her birthday parade.

“The Miami Heat came and that was beautiful, we watched that out the window,” Steel recalled.

They are making the very most of this difficult time.

“We will celebrate at the drop of a hat,” says Parker. “We are going to find a way to celebrate and enjoy life.”

Karli Barnett

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