COVID-19 and What It Means To Older Adults
Last week the COVID-19 virus became a pandemic, then on Friday, The President announced we are in the midst of a National Emergency. Before COVID-19 was listed as a pandemic or put us into a National Emergency, we did not think too much about the virus. Some made jokes about it and brushed it off because it was not listed as something fatal to us.
The fatality for COVID-19 for an average healthy adult is around 3%. Many people don’t think that is too high and then just dismiss it as a variation of the common cold. But for an older adult, the fatality rate increases. It also increases even more when they have an underlying condition such as heart disease, diabetes or kidney related illnesses. When you are an older adult hearing about a virus that is spreading rapidly throughout the globe, your point of view is radically different than a young adult who has their health.
The perspective of an older adult watching the news and seeing panic in their community can be extremely overwhelming. Many older adults began isolating themselves far before the CDC announced social distancing and quarantine. As the number of confirmed cases rise, even more older adults are afraid to leave their homes for the most basic of supplies. For those that do venture out and put themselves at risk, they are encountering empty shelves that have been cleared from panic buying. This leaves older adults stranded and with a greater sense of hopelessness.
Our older adult community members are most likely to become deathly ill from being exposed to the virus yet, it seems like this is the population is easily forgotten. Some have been careless by ignoring the suggestions from the CDC while others still do not take this virus seriously at all. Now that this is a true crisis, it is time to help our neighbors.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Start by checking on any older adults you know. Knock on their door and give a friendly hello. Many of the essential services older adults rely on may have been affected or discontinued to avoid the spread of the virus. Do not be offended if they do not answer as they may not feel comfortable making contact with people at this time. If you do not feel comfortable, give them a call and ask if you can bring them anything. Even if they do not need anything, it is always a great idea to check to make sure they are not feeling ill. If they do not answer, look sick or complain of not feeling well, please contact your local non-emergency police department for assistance.
Another way to get involved is by volunteering. Many organizations are currently looking for volunteers to help at food pantries or make in-home deliveries. Currently we are looking for volunteers to deliver emergency meals to the older adults who receive home delivered meals. A volunteer will take boxes to the home of an older adult in either DuPage or Kane County and drop the box off at their doorstep. The box contains non-perishable food.
Learn more about volunteering at Kane Senior Council.
Please do not volunteer if you feel ill or believe you have been in contact with someone who is known to have the COVID-19 virus!
Showing kindness, compassion and love can help calm an older adult neighbor and remind them that their community has not forgotten them. Many older adults might be feeling helpless and fearful for the future at this time. It is our responsibility as a community to extend a helping hand.
This will give an older adult peace of mind and prove we have not forgotten about them.