Director’s Article: Office for the Aging

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Even though it feels like COVID –19 (Corona Virus) has taken over our lives, I want you to know that the Office for the Aging staff and I are still working every day to make sure that the seniors in Chautauqua County are staying safe and healthy. We are working closely with the Health Department, the County Executive, and many other county and community agencies to make sure you have access food and medicine as well as someone to talk to. You have been told to stay home and away from others to prevent the spread of the virus. We know that will be really hard on some people, but it is especially important for older people who have a greater risk of being hospitalized or dying from this virus. I really like what Dr. Zucker from NYS DOH keeps saying, “Let’s be apart now so we can all be together later.”

We will get through this! Your generation knows this better than any other. Many of you have lived through some great struggles in your lifetime and I am sure you could teach us all a few things about overcoming adversity. Now is NOT the time for you to take risks with your safety. Now is the time to rely on others to help you get what you need to see you through this period of social distancing.

It’s hard not to get upset and worried when that is all you see on the news. Binge watching all the different news reports can make you feel overwhelmed. Make sure you are taking a break from the new reports and watch something that will make you laugh and smile. If you have access to FaceBook, the National Comedy Center just launched a new project called “The Healing Power of Laughter” with video meant to lift your spirits and give you a new perspective about comedy and crisis. We hope you do not feel like you need to stay inside the house all the time. The weather is getting better so it’s ok to sit on the porch, work in the garden or a walk around your neighborhood. Just be sure if you are talking with neighbors to keep that 6’ distance. It’s also ok to take a drive. We just want you to avoid public places where you are getting close to people or touching things that many other people have touched. If you do have to go out think doing it first thing in the morning or calling to see if you can have things delivered or arrange for curbside pick up. For great local information on grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses who are doing things differently to help people stay safe, look at the Chautauqua County Health Department or County Executive’s Face Book pages. You can also sign up to receive the County Executive’s Monday Morning Memo which has become an everyday e-mail of updates on the virus as well as guidance on changes to programs services and fun things to do to keep busy.

I want you to know that even though many of the OFA staff are home, we are still working every day. Our main priority is calling and checking on seniors making sure they have accurate information and access to the essential services. NY Connects continues to answer the Helpline (753-4582) between 8:30-4:30. As always, messages left after hours will be answered the next day or as soon as possible. Meals on Wheels services are continuing. New referrals for MOW are being triaged by our Dieticians to help determine who needs daily delivery or shopping assistance or a drop of shelf stable meals. We are also assisting the Health Department with meals for people who are quarantined or sick with the virus. These meals are being delivered by the Sheriff and NOT by the Meals on Wheels staff as an added layer of protection for older adults. MOW staff are now dropping meals at the door to limit contact with clients as much as possible. This is another measure to prevent spread of the virus. It is not necessary to wear gloves or masks for meal delivery. MOW staff are screened for illness daily, they sanitize their hands before and after deliveries and some are wearing homemade masks as a reminder not to touch their face. Senior Dining Out tickets are still being honored for takeout meals at Meeder’s Restaurant, Cassadaga SureFine, and at Central Station. CST “Link to Life” is our provider of personal emergency buttons for over 800 people in this county. When you push the button, a social worker is available to talk. If you do not have an emergency, you can still press the button to just to talk with someone. We have provided CST with local service information so they can answer your questions as well as just talk you through your concerns about COVID-19. Call NY Connects if you are interested in this service.

I know this is a difficult time for everyone but we can all help each other to get through this by reaching out and supporting one another. We all know people in our neighborhood, your church, senior club, and relatives who are living alone or may not have family to help them. Use this crisis as a reason to reach out and connect. You can’t get together in groups but you can talk. Share what you are doing to pass the time, or share a story of past adversity and how you got through it. Share the trusted local sources for information on our county websites and FaceBook pages for the best information. Warn them about scammers who are calling and trying to steal their identity by claiming to get them money for home repairs or claiming to help them get their stimulus check from the government. There is no need to do anything to get the stimulus money even if you do not file taxes. Remember that Social Security and the Federal Government will never call you asking for information or the phone or request information in an e-mail. They already know who you are. If you are unsure about a request in writing, call our office and we are happy to check out if it is true. We will continue to be here every day, making sure you are ok and have what you need. Don’t hesitate to call our NY Connects Helpline and please like our Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Facebook page. Stay Safe!