The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges for older adults who are struggling to maintain independence in their own homes. Older adults and those with serious underlying health conditions are most vulnerable to COVID-19. With social distancing and other guidelines in effect, many older adults are staying home and are isolated from family members, friends or neighbors who may be depended upon for some form of support such as transportation, cooking, personal care, help with homemaking, grocery shopping or other errands. This has contributed to older adults’ increased need for home-based care services to accomplish activities of daily living (i.e. bathing, meal preparation, etc.), obtain meal delivery, among other supports.

As a nonprofit agency serving older adults and individuals with disabilities throughout Plymouth County and surrounding towns, Old Colony Elder Services (OCES) continues to address the needs of OCES consumers and the local community. Our agency is in close contact with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA), the Department of Public Health, and is following their guidance as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended best practices. OCES continues to provide services and is in close communication with our extensive network of in-home service providers, councils on aging, health care partners, and community partners to deliver services in a safe and effective manner.

OCES’ home-based care services, or “homecare”, helps older adults and individuals with disabilities to remain safe and independent at home. Whether for short-term needs or for ongoing support, homecare encompasses a wide range of supports and may be provided in your own home or that of a family member or friend, in elder housing or private apartment. Homecare options include (but are not limited to) care management, personal care, homemaking, transition support (upon discharge from hospital or nursing facility), and home-delivered meals.

In fact, the demand for meals over the past few months has dramatically increased. OCES serves over 2,000 meals each weekday as part of its Meals on Wheels (MOW) program. All meals are planned by an OCES nutritionist. OCES requires social distancing and the wearing of masks and gloves in all meal deliveries. The meals are placed on the consumer’s porch or put in a plastic grocery bag (which is provided by the Nutrition department) and hung on the doorknob.

Communication is key         

OCES has established a “Situational Awareness Team” dedicated to ensuring ongoing communication with consumers and staff during the COVID-19 crisis to respond to consumers’ changing needs. Staff members inquire about each consumer’s health status and ascertain their needs. For any consumer who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has been advised to remain in self-quarantine while they await a test result, OCES has a process in place to ensure their homecare services are not interrupted and that they have enough food, adequate medication and home cleaning supplies during that time.

All of OCES’ programs, from Nutrition (meal deliveries), Homecare, Family Caregiver Support to Protective Services, remain in place and are operating. OCES is accepting new referrals and staff are conducting assessments via phone. If you have questions or are in need of homecare or other services, contact OCES’ Information and Referral Department at 508-584-1561.

Connecting with Older Adults

National Senior Citizens Day, celebrated on August 21st, is a day to honor the achievements of and show our appreciation to the older adults who have impacted our lives. Check in with older family members, whether by phone, videoconferencing, email, texts or even by traditional letter writing. Share memories. Talk about their experiences and accomplishments. Maintaining those connections shows that you care and is one of the best ways to honor older adults.