COVID 19 UPDATE – How It Affects Older Adults and Those Working With Them and Their Families

Colorado Governor Jared Polid has been very proactive in working with advocates to create an environment that has the needs of older adults in the forefront of this pandemic. Although I don’t have any inside information,
Dianne Primavera, our Lieutenant Governor who is an older adult and who is a cancer survivor, I can’t help but think has been advocating to keeping the needs of older adults in the forefront. A special thank you to Janice Blanchard, Advisor on Aging to the Governor.

The federal government has also been active on many fronts in helping with making it easier for older adults and their families in this time of concern.

I just wanted to review a number of the policies that are beneficial to older adults in this time of need.

COLORADO GERONTOLOGICAL SOCIETY IS STAYING OPEN.

  1. WE ARE ONLY PROVIDING ASSISTANCE VIA PHONE.
  2. We have some funding for a small amount of groceries, some volunteers to help, and
  3. We are continuing to work with different agencies solving problems such as getting food stamps reinstated, coaching for census filing, assisting individuals to apply for help such benefits as the PTC 104 and other services, and working closely with the Governor’s office and other agencies to ensure that all older adults are being served.
  4. We are accepting and process application for vision, hearing and dental services; but individuals cannot be served until a later date when the Governor’s Executive Order is lifted that currently closes all non-essential services.
  5. The Salute to Seniors has been rescheduled to August 22, 2020.
  6. Senior Issues Briefing, Network North, and Salute to Seniors Planning Committee meetings are cancelled in April and May. (A separate calendar is being sent as well).
  7. Assisted living classes are being re-scheduled. (A separate calendar is being sent as well).
  8. WE ARE ALSO SERVING AS A RESOURCE TO ASSISTED LIVING AND OTHER AGENCIES WHO NEED BACK-UP SUPPORT. LET US KNOW IF NEED ASSISTANCE.

COMMUNITY/STATEWIDE INITIATIVES that effect older adults.

  1. Non-essential visitors are prohibited from visiting nursing homes and assisted living residences. While this may be a hardship for older adults, the stress experienced by nursing homes and assisted living residences as they attempt to get medical supplies, food, and keep staff healthy and able to serve elders, this is a very positive step to keep everyone safe. COMPASSION CARE IS AVAILABLE IF AN OLDER ADULT IS DYING, YOU CAN VISIT IF YOU UNDERGO THE SAFETY PROCEDURES THAT THE FACILITY HAS IN PLACE, SUCH AS TEMPERATURES UPON ENTRY INTO THE BUILDING.
  2. Surveyors for nursing homes and assisted living residences will only be conducting surveyors if there actual harm is identified and/or supported.
  3. Long Term Care Ombudsman are contacting residents by phone to protect resident rights.
  4. Social Security field offices are closed, but individuals can make appointments if they are in a dire situation and there is a problem with their Supplemental Security Income, Social Security
    Disability Income
    , Social Security retirement or survivor benefits, or Medicare. Most Social Security employees are continuing to work remotely processing claims.https://connectforhealthco.com
  5. Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage plans are required to pay for all costs associated with COVID-testing. THERE ARE NO-COPAYS.
  6. Medicare Part D has relaxed the early re-fill policy; thus individuals can get their medications filled upon request. Furthermore, individuals can request additional re-fills such as a 90-day supply without waiting.
  7. Telehealth is available from Medicare and Medicaid providers. Physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other medical professionals such as counselors, specialists, and others can bill Medicare and Medicaid for phone calls, video conferencing, or other virtual contact. This reduces the need for Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries to not have to leave their home and get the care they need.
  8. Individuals who are laid off can apply for health insurance through the AFFORDALE CARE ACT – Contact Connect for Health (855) 752-6749. You may be eligible for Adult Medicaid, especially if you are unemployed and not on Medicare. Call Connect for Health or apply online.
  9. Redeterminations for Medicaid services through the Home and Community Based Services program for such services as home care, adult day programs, and assisted living, Single Entry Points have more time to process and submit paperwork.
  10. Target is reserving the first hour for shopping every Wednesday for older adults and vulnerable guests.
  11. Dollar General is encouraging older adults and other high-risk individuals to come the first hour each morning to shop and encouraging other patrons to come later in the day.
  12. Walmart is reserving every Tuesday (until April 28, 2020) the first hour exclusively for shopping for customers 60 and over. This may be as early as 6 am.
  13. Stop & Shop is allowing older adults 60 and over and those with weakened immune systems to shop from 6:00 am to 7:30 am.
  14. Safeway and Albertson’s is reserving 7 am to 9 am for vulnerable shoppers including older adults,
    pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems.
  15. Whole Foods is offering shopping an hour before official opening time for people 60 and over.
  16. King Soopers will dedicate the first hour on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays to senior citizens. Doors open at 8 am for shopping.
  17. Dentist offices are closed as are many other offices such as chiropractors, acupuncture, spas, and gyms. Many Opthamologists, Audiologists and other essential health agencies are closed.
  18. Individuals (including older adults) who have been laid off can file for Unemployment Benefits. For v.
  19. Meals on Wheels programs are continuing to operate. Some programs may not be accepting new clients at this time. Call 303-333-3482 if you need more information.
  20. Some food banks are continuing to operate, especially with the support of Food Bank of the Rockies which has a list of open programs. Others have closed due to lack of food and other reasons.
  21. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.
About the Author

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty, MS has been the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society since 1982. She has more than 40 years of experience in education and training, advocacy, clinical practice, and research in the field of gerontology. She is an adjunct instructor at Fort Hays State University teaching non-profit management. She can be reached at 303-333-3482 or at doherty001@att.net.

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