Coronavirus Relief for Seniors: Find Help During the Crisis
If you’re one of the 6 million elderly folks living in Canada right now, you’re undoubtedly 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.
How seniors can find help during the pandemic
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 provide coronavirus relief for seniors.
How to find financial help
Few could have accounted for a global pandemic when saving for retirement. Now, Canadians are seeking emergency financial assistance and wondering how to make mortgage, rent, or utility payments.
Even though the coronavirus has thrown most things into flux, you don’t need to worry about your OAS and public pension. According to the government of Canada, you will continue to receive your monthly benefit account through direct deposit or mail—whichever method you elected to receive payment. Service Canada is strongly encouraging those eligible for senior benefits to apply as soon as possible. You can apply online through My Service Canada.
If you aren’t receiving pension 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 during the coronavirus
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 despite the coronavirus
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, many 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
- Get 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!
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 help 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 the supplies they need.
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 many of them specifically target the elderly. These fraudulent attacks attempt to gather your personal information, which is later used to gain access to your bank accounts.
Here are the top four coronavirus 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 cheques. The government will not ask for personal information like your social insurance number, bank account, or credit card numbers
- Investment opportunities related to the coronavirus
If you get suspicious COVID-19 email, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help senior citizens during the coronavirus
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 many 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 help 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 to help 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, help 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 help, you can volunteer through organizations dedicated to serving seniors. Research local groups and see what they are offering in light of the coronavirus. But above all, be a good neighbour and stay inside if you are not feeling well, as good intentions can have dire consequences.
Start a fundraiser to support seniors
Crowdfunding is a great way to help seniors 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 help seniors during the coronavirus
Help for 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 help save a high-risk senior’s life. As the virus continues to take its toll, we are also seeing an increasing need for financial assistance. Within minutes, you can sign up and set up a GoFundMe to offer coronavirus relief for seniors. In times of crisis, every dollar counts.