Adults over 60
This guidance was developed during Governor Brown's Stay Home, Save Lives Campaign, Effective March 17th - May 14th, 2020.
Physical distancing recommendations can be stressful and leave people feeling isolated from friends, family, and loved ones. For adults over 60, this loss of social connection can lead to even deeper feelings of isolation, which can impact physical and mental health. Here are a few things you may want to know more about.
Why are those over 60 at greater risk for COVID-19?
Older people and people with underlying health conditions can be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. This is because as we age, we experience a gradual weakening of our immune systems. This makes it harder for our bodies to fight off diseases and infection. It also can make us more likely to get chronic diseases that make the immune system weaker. People with health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes need to be especially careful to avoid exposure to COVID-19.
Another consideration is how adults over 60 interact with the health care system. Increased health needs or chronic illnesses can require more frequent health supports or ongoing treatment in places like long-term care facilities. These types of facilities can lead to increased risk, given multiple people living closely to each other and sharing common spaces.
Are these strict physical distancing rules necessary?
The best way to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home. You must also limit things you do outside your home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults over 60 stay home as much as possible, due to their increased risk for severe illness.
One reason these steps are necessary is to help “flatten the curve” which is less about preventing people from getting sick, and more about slowing down how quickly people get sick. This helps prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed by a sudden increase of illnesses that require more people to be hospitalized than it can handle. Remember that hospitals and doctors are already dealing with regular patients with other illnesses common this time of year, such as colds and the flu.
Even if you feel ok, it is important to follow physical distancing measures to avoid spreading it to others, and help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Without leaving my home, how can I make sure I have groceries and other necessary supplies?
While shopping for food and necessities are some of the tasks still allowed under the Executive Order, it is riskier for older adults to go out to physical stores because it increases the chances of coming into contact with the virus.
- Some grocery stores do “pickup” or “delivery” options where you can place your order online. Then, orders are available for you to pick up outside the store or can be delivered to your home.
- Many restaurants offer food to-go, or delivered to your home.
- There are also services such as Uber Eats, Grubhub, or DoorDash that will pick up to-go orders and deliver them to your home.
- Meals on Wheels is available for homebound seniors and people with disabilities under 60 who receive Medicaid services. For more information, call 1-800-638-0510.
- See if friends or neighbors can shop for you while they are doing their own shopping.
This is stressful financially, and I am concerned about how I will continue to pay bills and for necessary expenses.
Financial stress, economic impacts, and job uncertainty related to COVID-19 are significant sources of stress and anxiety in our community. This may also contribute to feelings of isolation and uncertainty.
Some helpful resource are:
- The Federal Government has recently passed legislation to provide a stimulus relief package to help American families and businesses. For more information visit: www.irs.gov/coronavirus
- Utility providers in our community are working to support those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This may include suspending nonpayment disconnections and late fees. Please contact your provider directly for the most current information.
- Energy Assistance Funds: The Community Services Consortium (CSC) offers financial assistance to income-qualified individuals and families to assist with utility payments. They can be reached at 541-752-1010.
This is really hard, and I am struggling with missing social connections.
The term “social distancing” can feel like “social isolation.” It may help to think about current recommendations more as “physical distancing.” Meaning that, while you are being asked to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others, it does not mean you have to decrease your social connections with family and friends.
Even though it is difficult, it is important to limit physical interactions with people, including family and grandchildren. Because COVID-19 is more easily transmitted than viruses such as the flu, this is particularly important since people can transmit the virus before experiencing any symptoms.
How can I practice physical distancing and still maintain social connections?
Communication with loved ones during this time is important for your physical and mental health. There are many safe ways to connect with people.
Some suggestions include:
- Talking to people through video phone calls like FaceTime or Skype. Stay in touch with the people close to you, especially those who are social distancing too. These can also be people you are connected to through your existing church, social groups, or neighborhood.
- Speaking to people over the phone.
- It is important to have a trusted person you can share your own worries and feelings with. This could be a comforting friend, family member, therapist, or chaplain. In these challenging times, it is perfectly natural to feel afraid, lonely, or overwhelmed.
- Take the initiative to call your fellow older adults to check in with them and practice good listening skills.
- Writing emails, letters, or cards to send in the mail.
- Making gifts for people, writing, painting, knitting, making crafts, cards, or puppets. Find projects that are creative and rewarding, especially if it will cheer up someone else you love.
Take care of your physical health
- Postpone appointments that can be put off.
- Many healthcare providers now offer phone or video conference appointments, reducing the need to seek medical attention in person. This also allows family members to participate in these appointments, if needed.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about getting extra necessary medications to have on hand.
- Check with your pharmacy to see if they do mail order or delivery.
- Corvallis Police Department is also launching a prescription delivery program for those 65 and older, or with life-threatening pre-existing medical conditions. Call 541-766-6120 or visit www.bentoncounty.recovers.org to submit a request for support.
- Develop a plan for what to do if you get sick. This should include planning for if someone you live with, who may take care of you, also becomes sick.
- Stay active by searching YouTube for senior-focused exercise videos. The National Institute on Aging has a series called Go4Life, and the AARP also offers fitness videos.
Take care of your mental health and wellbeing
- Read books, listen to music or podcasts, or watch movies or shows.
- Get outside and take a walk.
- The Disaster Distress Hotline is available 24/7:
- Deaf/Hard of Hearing Individuals: Text TalkWithUs to 66746
- TTY 1-800-846-8517
- Spanish Speakers: Call 1-800-985-5990 and press "2"
- Deaf/Hard of Hearing Individual: (Spanish): Text Hablanos to 66746
- The National Institute on Aging has a crisis line that is available 24/7 for those 60 and older: 1-800-971-0016
- You can contact Benton County’s Crisis Line at 1-888-232-7192
- Benton County Counselor of the Day is still available for anyone in crisis and needing to talk with a therapist or counselor immediately. Please call 541-766-6835
Here are a few ways to stay connected and support your community:
- Donations and Volunteering
- To help coordinate donations and volunteers, Benton County and the City of Corvallis have launched a website www.bentoncounty.recovers.org. Please visit the site and let us know if you have time or materials to donate, or if you are in need of support.
- Blood Drives Are Essential
- Like a hospital, grocery store, or pharmacy, a blood drive is essential to ensuring the health of the community. The American Red Cross will continue to hold blood drives during this challenging time, and you are encouraged to keep your blood donation appointment or schedule one.