Keeping the 65+ Community Healthy, Happy, and Safe During the Pandemic

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Vera Eskridge, 86, right, is escorted into the waiting area by registered nurse Angelo Bautista after getting her COVID-19 vaccine at a site in Southern California on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

California care facilities provide medical care and much needed social activities for Seniors who may have isolated throughout pandemic

By Sierra Stallworth, Contributing Writer

“In the height of the pandemic we asked the elderly to do something we never tell them to do: to isolate.” 

That’s what President and Chief Executive Officer of Choice in Aging, Debra Toth, had to say about how the world of caregiving has changed during this age of coronavirus.

Comparatively, for years, caregivers and family members have been told to keep the elderly population present in their communities and allow them to participate in activities together. But once it was discovered that Seniors were the most vulnerable age group during COVID-19, they were forced to isolate themselves.

Thankfully, through vaccines and gaining more information about the virus, care facilities, such as the Choice in Aging Facility, have been able to reopen and continue many of the beneficial programs they once held for the elders pre-pandemic.

On April 12, 2022, the Choice in Aging Facility in Pleasant Hill, CA, with the help of Ethnic Media Services, conducted a news briefing about day health centers reopening, isolation during the pandemic, and the different services that are now available for older adults in California.

Vital information on how to keep older adults healthy and happy during the pandemic was shared by a multitude of speakers. One of the guest speakers, Susan DeMarois, Director of the California Department of Aging, explained three ways that caregivers can help their patients and family members.

One way is using all the services and support available for older adults in California. For example, every county has phone support lines, like the friendship line, to help those who might feel lonely and isolated during the pandemic.

DeMarois also emphasized that the Department of Aging is willing to meet older adults wherever they are. Whether they need access to adult care facilities, senior centers, or just meeting up for shared meals in the community, DeMarois urges seniors to reach out if help is needed.

Lastly, DeMarois reminded all caregivers and older adults to take advantage of Medi-Cal, which is California’s Medicaid program that serves low-income individuals, families, seniors, and persons with disabilities, allowing them access to low or no-cost medical care and health insurance. Even undocumented California residents are also eligible for Medi-Cal.

The importance of Medi-Cal and staying safe was an overarching theme throughout the briefing. Dr. Sara Levin, a guest speaker at the briefing, spoke about how COVID-19 has affected older adults. 

During the pandemic, Doctors discovered that people who are aged 65+ are the most affected by COVID-19. This caused many older adults to isolate in fear of catching the disease. Unfortunately, many older adults were not able to be isolated because they lived in households of multi-generational families who needed to work or go to school. These seniors became high-risk based on their living conditions.

One of the best ways to keep older adults healthy during this pandemic is keeping them current and up to date with their vaccines and boosters. And if they do catch COVID-19, there are antiviral treatments available at pharmacies to take before the infection gets worse. 

Services like mobile clinics, booster clinics, and travel nurses that can come to your home to give vaccinations to elders who are home-bound due to medical reasons are also available for older adults.  

While keeping older adults physically safe during the pandemic is imperative, their mental health is equally important. Older adults are not meant to be isolated or alone. Seniors in need of help are urged to take full advantage of places like the Choice in Aging Facility, a place for isolated elders to be around friends and present in their community, while also providing the medical care and COVID-19 help they need. 

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