Keeping seniors safe in the coronavirus pandemic

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Wearing a mask every time you leave the house. Waiting in line six-feet apart outside your local grocery store. Washing your hands constantly. 

This is our new normal. 

As Philadelphians, the country and the world try to adapt to life amid a pandemic, we have inadvertently been tasked with keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe—a responsibility that is vital, especially when dealing with those who are most vulnerable. 

Since the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, health experts have warned that the elderly and immune-deficient are among the most high-risk individuals of contracting the COVID-19 virus. As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been 611,411 confirmed cases of coronavirus throughout America, including 28,746 fatalities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 out of 10 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the U.S. have been adults 65 years old and older. 

So what can people do to help insure the safety of elderly loved ones? Many organizations and businesses are offering resources to help seniors stay safe. 

Prescription Delivery Services

CVS and Walgreens have waived charges for prescription deliveries amid the coronavirus outbreak in an effort to help the elderly stay home and practice social distancing. Both companies also offer a pharmacy chat service so people can ask a pharmacy expert questions regarding their prescriptions. These services are available online at walgreens.com and CVS.com or on their mobile apps.

The Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly Program (PACE) announced refill extensions to help older adult enrollees. Usually, enrollees must use 75-percent of their prescriptions before refills will be granted. However, now PACE will refill medications before that deadline—with the exceptions of controlled substances and opioids, which will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Those who would like to access this program must have their pharmacy call PACE at 1-800-835-8040. 

Support for Caregivers

The Caregiver Action Network offers a help desk to assist caregivers throughout the country who may need additional information regarding at-risk loved ones under their care. This is a free resource that offers information and support to those who may seek additional insight while trying to navigate the coronavirus pandemic. It is staffed by caregiving experts, who are available to have confidential conversations with those seeking support. This service is available via telephone, email and live chat weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time. For information, call 855-227-3640 or visit caregiveraction.org/helpdesk.

Family Care

AARP’s initiative Home Alone Alliance offers a series of how-to videos to provide caregivers with an education on various medical tasks including managing medications, special diets and wound care. The resource guides, which are available in English and Spanish, are free to use and can be accessed online at www.aarp.org/ppi/initiatives/home-alone-alliance

Meal Delivery

There are many prepared meal delivery services available, and some cater specifically to senior nutrition—such as MagicKitchen.com and SilverCuisine.com. These services can help the elderly obtain nutritious food directly to their door and many cater to specific dietary needs. 

Meals on Wheels offers affordable meal delivery and financial assistance which is available based on the individual’s need. The organization is the largest national provider of senior meal services and also provides a safety check on the elderly. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is seeking additional donations to help fund their efforts. For information or to make a donation, visit https://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/take-action/covid-19-response

Mental Health

Feelings of isolation, fear and depression are extremely common during any national emergency, especially for older adults who live alone. There are many resources available to offer information and support during these trying times. The Disaster Distress Hotline provides crisis counseling 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year and can be reached at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. It is toll-free, multilingual and confidential. 

Physical Fitness

The YMCA is offering health and fitness videos for active older adults that can be accessed free of charge. The videos range from Rise and Shine exercises to weight training to chair yoga. To try an at-home workout specifically designed for senior citizens, visit ymca360.org/on-demand#/category/14

For additional information on how seniors can combat the risk of coronavirus and a complete list of programs and resources available for older adults, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Aging at https://www.aging.pa.gov/Pages/covid-guide-for-older-adults.aspx 

 

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