By Rhyan Nile , Feature Writer

They always say to never tell an elderly person to isolate and due to COVID-19, the statement that was off-limits had to be said. 71% of COVID deaths were 60+ older and 15 million are not vaccinated. Vaccination for the elderly community is a state of urgency due to it being a significant difference between life and death. The California Department of AGING hosted a meeting in regards to raising awareness for older adults to break out of the pandemic. There is support for our elderly community in all 58 counties in California. There was a panel of four guest speakers who shared important information concerning the resources that most people still don’t know about. 

“Thank you to Everyone who has brought us to this day. Our local heroes”-Susan DeMarois, the director of the California Department of Aging. DeMarois informs the attendees that the department networking will meet any individual where they are and connect them to services, such as senior nutrition. DeMarois also mentions that every person should renew their applications and make sure that they are still eligible, and if so, keep the information updated. 

Going outside the house for the last two years was the scariest thing to do, especially when having an elderly person in the home. Once someone leaves there is the possibility that they could bring the illness home. Dr. Sara Levin, Internist, Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, speaks on how important collaboration is amongst all of us. “When we collaborate, it showed us that we can survive together” spoke Dr. Levin. Dr. Levin explains the multiple options that the community has, such as, door-to-door efforts for vaccines, free treatments (anti-viral treatments), nurses can come to the home, mobile clinics, and several pharmacies listed on their website. 

The reality is, that the data is always changing. The age group that was affected the most was 60+ and often in multi-generational families. “We rarely read about older adults. The elderly are usually invisible but they are dying” expressed Debbie Toth, President, and CEO of the California Department of Aging. Toth shared that vaccines and boosters are the only things that have helped older adults. When the elderly community was told that they could come back to the center if they got fully vaccinated, there was 100% uptake. The 60+ community dealt with some serious emotions during the pandemic, and a few were able to share their roller coaster experience with us. 

Sylia is 94 from Russia and she came back to the center because she did not like being alone because it made her upset. She is grateful to all who have made her life better by coming to the center and being surrounded by others. 

Gilbert got a dog to help with his nerves and other things he can’t do on his own. He said it feels good to be back with other people and shoot pool. 

Bonnie was devastated when she was forced into isolation and when she came back she was delighted to have support again. 

Kim McCoy Wade, Sr. Advisor on the California Department of Aging, quotes the three “M’s” to remember through this process of coming out of isolation, 1) Mood, 2) Mobility, and 3) Mental Sharpness. And most importantly, “KEEP CURRENT!” exclaimed Wade. 

No one wants to feel like a burden and the key to recovering from isolation is re-engaging (safely), family caregiver, stimulating the mind/body, and joy for each individual. The ultimate goal is to live longer and to accomplish this goal, connecting safely is vital. After all, we are all in this together. 

If you or anyone you know needs additional help and resources during this difficult time, call any of the hotlines day or night. 

Services/Resources 1-800-510-2020

Friendship Lines 888-670-1360

Caregiver Resource 1-800-445-8106