Resources To Help Seniors Receive Supplies
During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, seniors are relying more than ever on delivery services for essential items. Most states’ stay-at-home orders advise only leaving home for essential activities such as grocery shopping, and even limiting those outings to at least once a week. Due to seniors’ increased risk of the virus’s severe effects, however, it is especially important for them to stay home whenever possible. Fortunately, many for- and nonprofit organizations have stepped in to make the process easier through the internet or personal connections.
Here are some tips on supplies seniors need, how they can interface with stores and delivery services, and how they can use resources in their local communities.
The most important coronavirus supplies are those needed during everyday life: food, water, shelter, and basic emergency supplies. Seniors with two or three weeks’ worth of food can stay home for extended periods as is safest. It is important not to buy more food than you need, but stock up on items you know you will put to good use; right now is the “rainy day” for cooking canned goods in your pantry. Frozen items can last for months, while fresh foods last a few weeks and should be the only items you should have to frequently replace during your sparse shopping. Selecting healthy foods can help seniors strengthen their immune systems, and cooking is helpful for staying engaged and in good spirits during this difficult time.
Useful household supplies include toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, dish soap, and other cleaning supplies; due to toilet paper hoarding, you should only buy it as needed or use a bidet. There is no major risk of infected water supplies, so having a water purifier or kettle is better than hoarding water bottles. Doctors advise having at least two weeks’ worth of prescription medications, with automatic refills if possible. First Aid kits should include Band-Aids, cough medicine, thermometers, and acetaminophen; despite initial suspicions, there is no conclusive evidence that anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen worsen the coronavirus. Everyone, but especially seniors, should keep a list of emergency contacts including loved ones, doctors, and local hospitals or clinics that take their insurance.
While the Centers for Disease Control has previously noted that cloth face masks do not prevent wearers from contracting COVID-19, they now advise the use of cloth masks in public to limit the virus’ spread. People infected with COVID-19 do not always show symptoms, so everyone is advised to wear one to avoid spreading the virus to others. According to guides on making cloth masks, you can easily make them from bandanas, old T-shirts, or other fabrics, with or without sewing. They require frequent machine washing, and are not a substitute for washing hands, social distancing, and staying home. Such masks are helpful for seniors in living facilities or other indoor settings where air does not circulate; medical-grade masks are reserved for medical workers and their patients due to a worldwide shortage.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, and their online equivalents are developing ways to make attaining these essential items easier.
Stores and Delivery Services
With precautions such as masks, handwashing, and limitation of trips, seniors who shop for themselves can keep visiting grocery stores. Nationwide grocery chains now offer exclusive hours for seniors and the immunocompromised. Most stores, such as Albertsons, Costco, Dollar General, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, and Walmart have senior-only morning hours, usually on select days. Many offer senior discounts, and pharmacies in particular often have sanitized drive-through deliveries. A quick search of your local grocery stores will specify their senior-only hours. However, it may still be safest for seniors’ loved ones or caregivers to shop for them with the same precautions.
Many of your local grocery stores have home delivery options. Online delivery services such as Amazon Fresh, Fresh Direct, Instacart, and Peapod help seniors order groceries for home delivery. Due to an influx of orders during the crisis, however, you should only use these services as frequently as any other shopping trip and try to avoid buying inessential items. As these services prioritize essential items during the crisis, other orders may take longer than usual. Seniors interested in cooking their own meals can use Blue Apron and other senior-friendly meal kit delivery services. Meals on Wheels programs are good options for seniors who have difficulty navigating the web or preparing their own meals, although they also face supply issues currently.
Navigating all of the above systems becomes easier with the help of loved ones and community resources available to seniors.
While senior centers have closed down their inessential activities, many of them are still vital hubs of information. Their messaging can direct seniors to organizations that provide food and medicine delivery, transportation, in-home services, and resources for caregivers without the risk of scams all too prevalent amid rampant misinformation about the coronavirus. You can identify some scams by their request for personal information such as your social security, credit card, or bank account number, although others are subtler. Online Eldercare Locator can also connect seniors with local resources in their communities.
During this time, seniors may also rely on loved ones for navigating resources and serving as emergency contacts. They can deliver groceries, check-in about health, and arrange meetings between seniors and their doctors to do the same. While seniors’ loved ones should avoid visiting them in person, the lines of communication can remain open by phone, email, and video chat. Social media and local searches can also quickly connect seniors with many of the local resources they need.
While worldwide connectivity is what caused COVID-19 to become a global pandemic, it also provides means of disease mitigation and community building that we have never seen before. Staying in touch with loved ones and the wider community can help seniors access the resources they need without risking infection. By knowing what we need and taking social distancing precautions in obtaining it, everyone can flatten the curve and keep themselves as safe and healthy as possible.
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