As the nation’s population ages, counties face increasing demand for comprehensive systems of care for older residents. Counties provide critical services to enhance the lives of older adults age 50 and over, from active adult programming and in-home services to hot meals and referral services. Often, aging services fall within the authority of county human services agencies and are supported by local funding streams and federal funding provided by the Older Americans Act. Aging services vary depending on local needs, but often include transportation, nutrition, support for caregivers, recreation, in-home assistance, disease prevention and more. During COVID-19, counties are exploring ways to continue core services and reduce the spread of the coronavirus to this high-risk population. They are also exploring ways to increase communication to older adults and their caregivers during times of isolation.

Lewis County, N.Y.

Lewis County Department of Social Services and Office for the Aging is partnering with the Strong Schools’ Strong Community program to recruit teachers whose schools have closed to volunteer their time to go grocery shopping, make medicine pickups at pharmacies and handle other important errands for older residents.

Piatt County, Ill.

Piatt County Services for Seniors, a long-running outreach program of the Piatt County Nursing Home, offers a variety of services for elderly residents. During COVID-19, Services for Senior’s shuttle services are being repurposed to bring the elderly supplies. Additionally, Piatt County Public Transportation, Piatt County Services for Seniors and Faith in Action are partnering to deliver groceries on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and items from pharmacies on Tuesdays and Thursdays to older residents.

Orange County, N.C.

To reduce health risks associated with COVID-19, the Orange County Department on Aging suspended all activities in the county’s two senior centers. Since that time, staff have modified programs and services to support seniors, including recruiting additional volunteers for their Telephone Reassurance Program that provides wellness checks to senior citizens. Staff are also reaching out to isolated individuals through letters, text messages and phone calls, providing DIY Activity, Craft and Fitness packets with meal deliveries and offering virtual fitness classes to elderly populations.

The health and safety of residents are paramount for counties. County human services staff are on the frontlines providing essential medical, nutrition and financial assistance and economic supports to children, families and older adults at a critical time in our country and helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Tagged In: