How to Support Seniors During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It is reported that the elderly population is most at risk during our current coronavirus outbreak, therefore they need our support now more than ever. Here at the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan, we work to connect seniors to resources they need to stay independent at (616) 456-5664. This mission remains steadfast in light of the current coronavirus pandemic. We want to be sure that all older adults and persons with a disability are looked after and cared for during this uncertain time. Around our West Michigan region, extra precautions are being made to keep older adults healthy. However, as the situation is ever-changing, more and more crucial services are being paused. So, what can you do to help those at risk?

Stay connected. We encourage you to check in on your senior family members and neighbors. Offer to help them by picking up much-needed food and household supplies so they don’t have to leave the safety of their homes. Ask them how they are doing and what difficulties they might be facing. Social isolation and feelings of loneliness are increased in times such as these, so use technology to your advantage in keeping in contact. Phone calls, Skype, and Facetime are all great tools to use while social distancing. Our Making IT Easier video series has helpful videos on how to use some of these technologies; check it out here.

Support Senior Service Organizations. At the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan, we have an outstanding network of Older Americans Act and Kent County Senior Millage Partners that provide vital services to seniors. With the current COVID-19 crisis, these services are now more important than ever to the seniors that rely on them. This is where the community comes in. Donate to these programs and organizations that make such a difference for seniors. Monetary donations, food donations, personal care items, and cleaning supplies/hand sanitizer are some things that could make a lasting impact on these organizations and will help them to continue to function. Currently, essential services include transportation, home-delivered meals, and personal in-home care services. You can find a full list of our partner services here.

Get Information. Our Information and Assistance department is available to provide answers and resources for seniors and people with disabilities. Caregivers and older adults can call (616) 456-5664, where our specialized team will connect them to resources that best fit their unique situation. We are here for you. In addition, the Heart of West Michigan United Way is another wonderful, 24/7 community resource. They can be reached at 2-1-1.

Follow CDC Guidelines. This one is simple, but perhaps most important; follow the unwavering advice from the Center for Disease Control. These prevention tips include regularly washing your hands (for 20 seconds minimum), staying at home to help curb the spread, avoiding close contact with others, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. You can learn more here.