Coronavirus Relief for Seniors: Find Help During the Crisis
If you’re one of the 47 million elderly folks living in the US right now, you may be feeling the burden of social isolation. You might also be worried about putting yourself in harm’s way while trying to go grocery shopping or running other essential errands. Know that there are resources available to help you weather this storm while staying safe, healthy, and connected to loved ones. Below are a few ways to find coronavirus relief for seniors—from financial assistance to staying connected.
How seniors can find help during the pandemic
When looking at the relationship between coronavirus and seniors, doctors are finding that the people who are the highest risk are those who have underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems. As a result, people who fit within those categories may take extra precautions to self-isolate. If you are over the age of 65, we understand that isolation and health concerns may make this time particularly difficult for you. This is why we’ve come up with a list of helpful tips and resources that offer COVID-19 guidance for older adults.
How to find financial help
Few could have accounted for a global pandemic when saving for retirement. Now, millions of Americans are seeking emergency financial assistance and wondering how to make mortgage, rent, or utility payments.
Even though the pandemic has thrown most things into flux, you don’t have to worry about your Social Security benefits. According to the United States Social Security Administration, you will continue to receive your monthly benefit account through direct deposit or mail—whichever method you elected to receive your payments. You will also be eligible to receive a one-time $1200 payment as part of the COVID-19 stimulus checks.
If you aren’t receiving social security benefits or need additional support, there are a number of government and nonprofit programs you can turn to that offer financial help for seniors.
Dealing with isolation
As we age, we tend to spend more time alone. But, there’s a difference between healthy alone time and the social isolation that the CDC is now requiring of us all. The social distancing measures we’re all practicing because of the coronavirus may be a difficult adjustment for many. Thankfully, we live in a time where you can easily stay connected to loved ones and participate in shared activities. You can video chat, simultaneously watch movies, or schedule a lunch date. Or, a simple phone call will do.
Another way to combat the negative effects of isolation is to exercise. The National Institute of Aging has a series of low-impact workout videos specifically designed for seniors. Exercising can improve your mental health as well as give your immune system a boost—both of which are essential.
How you decide to cope with confinement is up to you. Just remember that even in isolation, you are not alone.
How to get food safely
Health officials are recommending that you stock up on food to limit exposure at grocery stores. However, many cannot afford to build a food reserve. Additionally, if you’re one of the millions of low-income seniors, then stocking up on the essentials to limit grocery store trips might not be realistic for you.
Historically, senior centers or food banks were a promising solution for malnutrition and hunger in the elderly community. Thankfully, food banks are offering alternative shopping options because of COVID-19and are offering contactless delivery. This means that food delivery services or volunteers will drive to your home and leave the food on your doorstep to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. If you need food but aren’t able to leave your home due to coronavirus concerns, find meals through your local food bank and confirm that your local chapter is offering delivery.
If you are able to afford groceries, you have a few more options. You can:
- Take advantage of special senior hours for elderly shoppers
- Order grocery delivery through Amazon Prime Now
- Have fresh meal kits delivered to your home
- Have a loved one purchase groceries for you
As a best practice, wash your hands thoroughly after handling items that have been delivered to you. Better be safe than sorry. If you’re looking for a bit more information on how to get food assistance during the pandemic, read our article How to Find Food Assistance During the Coronavirus for helpful tips.
How to get necessities without leaving your house
Groceries aren’t the only items you need. Things like medicine and toiletries are essential. Thankfully, pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS are waiving drug delivery fees so that high-risk individuals do not have to travel if they are sick.
Another way to get assistance is to reach out to the Shopping Angel program. This organization was created as a response to the coronavirus, and focuses on providing services to vulnerable people. They have a team of volunteers who go into stores and pick up shopping necessities at no additional cost, making it possible for seniors to get their supplies.
How to stay safe and identify coronavirus scammers
During times of turmoil, bad actors often use the fear and chaos to their advantage. Scammers will commonly pose as authoritative figures or offer a product that is too good to be true, and a lot of them specifically target the elderly. These fradulent attacks attempt to gather your personal information, which is later used to gain access to your bank accounts.
Here are the top four scams to be wary of:
- Fraudulent products claiming to be a cure for the virus. Only trust public health experts like the CDC or WHO
- Imposters claiming to be government representatives calling about the stimulus check. The government will not ask for personal information like your social security number, bank account, or credit card numbers
- Investment opportunities related to the coronavirus
- Suspension of social security payments. The Social Security Administration is not suspending any benefits and will never request that you pay a fee to receive the benefits
If you are suspicious of a call, hang up immediately and report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
How to support senior citizens during the pandemic
Coronavirus relief for senior citizens is desperately needed. Because they are at higher risk of contracting the virus, it can be very dangerous for them to venture outside for necessities. There are different ways you can support the elderly during this time, whether you’re helping a loved one or others in your community.
Talk to seniors virtually to stay connected
Technology can be difficult to use, especially for elderly people who didn’t grow up with it. You can walk an older person through the basics of using video chat applications like FaceTime or Google Hangouts. Their ability to communicate with and see their loved ones via video chat will make them feel less lonely and bolster their immune systems.
If video chats prove to be challenging, you can always send a text, email, or simply give them an old fashioned phone call. Although you may not be able to see each other, you are still offering companionship so the elderly feel less alone.
Running errands for the elderly
If you have the means, consider running errands for the elderly. Many seniors cannot leave their homes in fear of contracting the virus but still need essential supplies like groceries and medicine. If you know someone who needs help, offer to go on a supply run for them. Or, assistance with non-contact chores like taking out the trash bins, getting the mail, or mowing the lawn. In either case, make sure to follow best practices like contactless delivery and disinfecting everything you touched to decrease chances of spreading the virus.
If you don’t know anyone specifically who needs assistance, you can volunteer through organizations dedicated to serving the elderly. Research local groups and see what they are offering in light of the coronavirus. But above all, be a good neighbor and stay inside if you are not feeling well, as good intentions can have dire consequences.
Start a fundraiser
Crowdfunding is a great way for seniors to get financial help during coronavirus. Or, the donations can be used to create programs that offer seniors relief. fundraising allows you to keep even more of the money you raise so that it goes to supporting your cause. An added benefit is that fundraising through GoFundMe is done entirely online, so you can support the elderly community without risking exposure to the virus.
Take action to support seniors during the coronavirus
Helping seniors comes in many forms—each of which is equally important. We’ve seen that human connection can improve mental health, and that delivering groceries can save a high-risk senior’s life. As the virus continues to take its toll, we are also seeing an increasing demand for financial assistance. Within minutes, you can sign up and set up a GoFundMe to offer senior coronavirus relief. In times of crisis, every dollar counts.