BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Being isolated is tough for many seniors, even more so during this months-long pandemic.
What You Need To Know
- Being isolated for months has been hard for many seniors
- Organizations have found ways to connect with seniors
- Volunteers have been delivering meals to many who are homebound
So now more than ever, progress to help their mental health needs to happen.
It's time for the lunch-time meal delivery for Aging Matters in Brevard County's Meals on Wheels Program.
Volunteers are serving 2,000 seniors, many of them homebound, and many isolated during the pandemic. People like Lorraine Smith, who today got enough food to last her the entire holiday weekend. She even received Christmas presents.
"I think it's great, I really do," Smith said, after receiving the delivered meals.
Smith, like so many other seniors, isn't able to see family very often.
"Missing their families, seeing other families together," says Abby Jones, a mental health counselor at the Lifetime Counseling Center in Cocoa.
She says the pandemic is taking away that live connection seniors get when families visit them once, maybe twice a year. Plus, to avoid crowds, they aren't able to go to places like the grocery store to interact with others.
"The inability for their families to come see them, has exasperated the situation," Jones said. "They don't have even that momentary connection that they used to have, so the isolation has grown even in that aspect."
"With COVID it's been such a huge struggle for a lot of our clients and their isolation and staying alone," said Alyson Elmasian of Aging Matters In Brevard.
Aging Matters also oversees in-home and caregiver resources. It's a built-in check-up to make sure their clients are mentally and physically well. And to make sure the home is safe and secure for the homebound seniors.
"We are putting in grab bars because they don't have family members come and visit them, at least we can help out and continue to keep them safe," Elmasian said.
Due to the pandemic, the group is starting a pilot project aimed at training staff like Elmasian to help seniors with isolation, depression, and mental health issues. It's under the umbrella of the Department of Elder Affairs. And the timing couldn't be better as the crisis wears on.
Aging Matters in Brevard is also continuing regular check in phone calls to their senior clients, even those who don't use the in-home services like Meals on Wheels.
Jones adds you can help by knocking on a neighbor's door and standing at a safe distance for a conversation.