During the coronavirus pandemic, people are rightfully concerned about older relatives and neighbors who are at higher risk for developing more severe complications from the disease.
Be Local means taking proper precautions but making sure to check on older adults to insure their safety.
“Absolutely because some people have no one to check on them,’’ said Carol Ashton, executive director of Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers of Fayette County.
IVCF is a nonprofit based at Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Uniontown that matches trained volunteers to provide services for seniors aged 55 and older who cannot access public transportation and are without sufficient family support.
In a time when people are practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of germs, Ashton suggested those who are concerned about older relatives and friends make a phone call to do the check.
“Because of the fear of catching something, I would call to check on them.’’ said Ashton, noting, “We have people we call every day.’’
Many people who are staying home to abide by guidelines issued by health officials can feel scared and lonely.
Ashton observed, “Some kind of contact is important: Are you okay? Do you need anything?’’
Items can be placed at the front door for those older relatives and friends as well as those with underlying health conditions so they can pick them up without exposure to germs from visitors.
Sometimes, however, closer contact is needed.
Ashton said that while IVCF is experiencing a number of cancellations for rides as medical appointments being cancelled or postponed, there are still some people who can’t reschedule medical care, such as patients on chemotherapy.
Ashton said IVCF volunteers are stepping up to help these patients make those appointments.
“No one has said ‘no’ to me. It is a faith-based organization and the volunteers I’ve called have not questioned it,’’ said Ashton. “I wondered if people would be fearful but that has not happened.’’
Meanwhile, The National Council on Aging noted on its website:
“People of all ages can support older adults during this time. Many older adults depend on services and supports provided in their homes or in the community to maintain their health and independence.’’
NCOA also referred to CDC recommendations for family members, neighbors, and caregivers:
“Know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help them have extra on hand.
“Monitor food and other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.
“Stock up on non-perishable food items to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
“If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently, and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.
“Help with disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.’’
NCOA also advised to watch against scammers taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus:
“The Federal Trade Commission has identified several of them and is offering tips to protect yourself and others. These include watching for emails claiming to be from the CDC saying they have information about the virus and ignoring online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges, or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19 online or in stores.
“If you receive an email asking you to donate to a nonprofit that is fighting the coronavirus, make sure to research the organization first through an independent charity rating service such as Charity Navigator.’’
While the pandemic can be a scary time for all, it’s important to be local by remembering those most vulnerable and offering help where needed.
Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can call 724-439-7515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Discount cards are available at the Herald-Standard, 8 E. Church St., Uniontown, and at the Greene County Messenger, 32 Church St., Waynesburg.