Aging adults need help coping with coronavirus threat

The Aging and Adult Services Agency within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging Michigan residents to consider how they can help older family, friends and neighbors in their community deal with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Older adults need our support now more than ever, as they are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19,” said Dr. Alexis Travis, the agency’s director. “Aging and Adult Services Agency wants Michiganders to think about how they can step up and help — whether it’s by donating money, volunteering or calling their older neighbors to make sure they are OK.”

Eight of 10 COVID-19 deaths reported in the U.S. have involved adults age 65 and older, according to the agency.

Because older adults are at higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19, it is particularly important for them to stay home unless it’s necessary to go out. That creates challenges for the agencies that support seniors that they are attempting to address. They can use your help.

For example, older adults can be helped by —

— Contacting the local Area Agency on Aging to volunteer or donate. Volunteers to deliver meals and make friendly reassurance calls are of highest need.

— Donating these items to local food banks: Shelf-stable, non-perishable food items; personal care items; and household supplies. Note that Area Agencies on Aging do not have the capacity to accept donated goods and food.

— In addition to calling or checking on the elderly, offer to pick up food or supplies.

Volunteers for these checks should not be in high-risk groups — such as elderly themselves or with an underlying medical condition — to minimize the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

Those age 60 or older who might need support or services can call the local Area Agency on Aging through the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress, or UPCAP, in Escanaba at 800-338-1119 or at 211 for access 24/7. UPCAP serves Dickinson and Iron counties as well as the rest of the Upper Peninsula.

As information about this outbreak changes rapidly, go online to Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus to get updates.


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