2020 has been all about change for all of you as well as our office. Late last year before the pandemic hit, our advisory council voted to change our name to the Office for Aging Services. A small change that we hoped would better emphasize the services we provide rather than “aging” which no one seems to want to do. We had hoped to have a big celebration to accompany this change but like everything else this year, it was sidelined by COVID-19. Since then our office has been consumed by making sure that people have the information and services they need to get through the pandemic and avoid contracting COVID 19. We know change can be difficult and stressful on everyone especially when many changes occur at once. Believe me when I say the staff and I are feeling it too! But please know that we are here for you and your families to guide you through the changes and get you connected to the services that will allow you to live independently in your home for as long as possible. That is our mission and promise to the people of Chautauqua County.
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) and its Director Greg Olsen are also working hard to keep you safe and advocate for the needs of older adults. This month NYSOFA in partnership with BellAge, Inc., and the Association on Aging in New York launched the CV19 CheckUp tool to help people better understand their risk of getting COVID 19. CV19 CheckUP online tool is free and anonymous, and only takes a few minutes to complete. The series of questions asks about your health conditions, and things like how many people do you come in contact with and when do you wear a mask? The information and the zip code you provide is used to calculate your risk of getting COVID-19 based the most current information about disease and what is happening in your neighborhood. It also provides recommendations and options to reduce your risk of getting COVID19. You can complete this as many times as you like and see how your answers to certain questions change your risk scores. There has been a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 and the risks associated with contracting and spreading the virus. This tool developed by BellAge uses the latest scientific information from around the world to calculate your individual risk of getting COVID19, how likely you are to spread it to others, and how likely are you are to be hospitalized or die from it. CV19 CheckUp is available to everyone at newyork.cv19checkup.org. We all have the power to control this virus and this new tool can guide your actions to protect yourself and others. I hope you will try it and share it with everyone you know.
The fall season is also when we start thinking about Flu. I urge all older adults to make an effort to get the Flu and pneumonia vaccines if you are eligible for them. While these vaccines will not protect you against COVID 19, people who have the flu or pneumonia and then come in contact with COVID will have a much harder time fighting it off. The flu vaccine is one of the safest vaccines but you need to get it every year. I hear some people say, “I got the flu vaccine but I still got sick.” That may be true. The flu is a very tricky bug because it changes or mutates often. This means there are many different types of flu out there. The CDC and other health organizations watch the flu very carefully to see what types of flu each year are the most deadly or severe. The flu vaccine is then developed to work against 2 or 3 types of flu that are the biggest threat to you. Vaccines work with your body, warning it when there is a threat so you can make specific antibodies (your soldiers) to fight off disease. Imagine someone comes to your house to sell you something. You do not know this person. Do you let them in or do your shut the door in their face? How do you know if this is a good person or a bad person? Now imagine if all the people who were trying to trick you out of money only wore orange clothing. We could tell you, don’t open the door to anyone wearing orange because they are going to try to steal from you. That is exactly how vaccines work! When you take a vaccine your body gets a warning saying look out for that bug covered in orange they can hurt you! It gets your soldiers (antibodies) ready to fight off the orange bugs should they try to get in to make you sick. Flu vaccine is available through your doctor or pharmacy. Many pharmacies do not even require an appointment. If you live in senior housing check with your building manager to see you can arrange for a local pharmacy to do a flu clinic on-sight where you live and many pharmacists if you call ahead are happy to come out to the parking lot to deliver your shot. There should be no cost to seniors as vaccines are covered by Medicare and all major insurance companies usually without a co-pay. The Chautauqua Center is working with Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY and CVS to provide a Drive through Flu Clinic on Saturday October 17 th in a pavilion on the corner of Park Street and East Third in Dunkirk. You can register for this clinic at www.cvs.com/flu.
For information on this and future Flu clinics visit the Office for Aging or NY Connects Facebook pages. For more information on services or anything contained in this article or call our NY Connects helpline at 753-4582.