Abuse and Isolation a Greater Concern for Seniors During COVID-19
By Dawn R., Alexandra House Advocate
June is the month dedicated to raising awareness around elder abuse. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. Abuse can happen in many places, including the older person’s home, a family member’s house, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. Abuse can happen to any older person, but often affects those who depend on others for help with activities of everyday life—including bathing, dressing, and taking medication.
Elder abuse and neglect may be on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic. We all know that older adults a particularly vulnerable group for COVID‐19 with or without underlying health conditions. Still, while isolation during this time may keep them safer, it creates other risk factors such as lack of access to food, medication, and support systems. Many of the community programs helping seniors maintain independence by taking them to the grocery store or a medical appointment have stopped for the safety of the seniors and those transporting them. Many support systems, such as family members visiting week to help care for seniors with things like housework, laundry, banking, or meals are now not happening with no in-person visits for safety reasons. Even just sharing a cup of coffee with a neighbor in their apartment building or neighborhood is not encouraged. Many seniors can get phone calls, but many do not have access to online options to order groceries, pay bills, or video chat with friends and family. You can see how this isolation can have a more substantial impact on basic needs and connections with the community for them.
At Alexandra House, advocates are connecting with our senior clients through phone conversations while we continue to support them, create safety plans, and try to help them find resources to meet their ongoing needs. Recently we made a change to our food shelf process and are delivering food directly to our senior clients, helping to fill that food insecurity need, as well as continuing social connections and resources. We also have a 50+ support group that switched to a virtual format to continue connecting and supporting survivors. Reach out to family, friends, or neighbors who are seniors to see if you can offer support for some of the daily needs that may be getting put on hold during this time or just to have a friendly chat for a few minutes.
For more information about our services offered to older adults, please visit our website or call our crisis line at 763-780-2330. If you are compelled to help Alexandra House meet the needs of those experiencing elder abuse, consider making a financial contribution or donating non-perishable food items or gift cards to Cub, Aldi’s, Hy-Vee, Walmart, or Target.