COVID-19 Special Update: Planning and Adapting to COVID-19

May 13, 2020 | age-friendly, CV19, Health, Impact Updates, Income security, INFO-FLASH News archive, informed, seniors' finances, Transportation

What seniors and their caregivers need to know

It has been several weeks since our world started shutting down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COA’s first response was to provide practical and personal information on COVID-19 for older adults and their caregivers.

As older adults, we have been told to stay at home as much as possible and restrict our contact to people in our household. For some, this means changing daily habits. For others, it has exposed vulnerabilities, leaving us more isolated in the fight against this virus. While we encouraged you to reduce the amount of news you consume, it is hard not to see or hear about the increasing deadly outbreaks in long-term care and other congregate, residential settings (Toronto Star).

We remain uncertain about what comes next. We see  emergency orders being extended further while some  businesses are reopening to restart the economy.

This INFO-FLASH will provide you with a recap of the last six INFO-FLASH Special Update newsletters as well as an update on what the COA, City of Ottawa, Province of Ontario, and Federal Government are doing to support seniors and their caregivers during this pandemic.

INFO-FLASH Special COVID-19 Updates for Seniors and their Caregivers

In the early days of the pandemic lockdown, there was little information specific to older adults. Over the last six weeks, we published a series of bilingual INFO-FLASH Special Updates on physical (social) distancing, food, caring for self and others, transportation, money/finances, and finding a balance.

Have a resource or story to share? Send to it us for possible inclusion in Updates.

We continue to our efforts to keep the information current,  by  providing some updates on the topics too. Check it out below!

Physically distancing: How to Stay Connected

“Social (physical) distancing” and “flattening the curve” have been in the news.  Social distancing is avoiding physical contact with people who do not live with you as well as public spaces, where surfaces may be infected. “Flattening the curve” is the use of social distancing to slow the spread of the virus so that fewer people need to seek treatment at any given time.

This explains why Ottawa Public Health is advising social distancing.  Here’s a bilingual video about social distancing from Dr. Vera Etches.

Read more

Food for thought: Getting the Food you Need

As we stay at home to be safe and healthy, we are having to rethink our approach getting food to our tables. Whatever the method you use, we need to give it some thought and proceed with caution as older adults. Here are a few tips to do it safely.

If you are self-isolating and especially if you have symptoms, it is important to maintain good nutrition. Make sure you are eating and drinking regularly, even if you have a low appetite. You can find more information on nutrition and healthy eating at unlockfood.ca (Dietitians of Canada) or Canada’s Food Guide (Health Canada).

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Caring for Self and Others: Three Tips for Older Adults to Stay Healthy and Safe

How is everyone doing? I have been impressed by how everyone is coming together to support each other. And following the new rules of physical distancing and hand washing. We need to continue to be on guard to flatten the curve and protect each others’ health and well-being.

It has not been easy to follow the experts’ advice, which is changing every day. As older adults, we are expected to stay home as much as possible, especially those over 70 years of age. Many of us are also caregivers to others at home and in long-term care. What do you need to do if you get sick or a family member gets sick? How do we give and receive care in the age of self-isolation? How do you get support to connect with your family member in long-term care?

Here are three suggestions to help us stay healthy, safe, and well during this pandemic and physical distancing.

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Getting Out and About Safely: Walking, Driving and Using Public Transportation

In a sprawling city like Ottawa, getting around is important. We take for granted our ability to walk, bike, drive, or take public transportation when and where we want to go. During COVID-19, we can still get around, but it takes planning ahead and observing physical distancing rules.

Ottawa Public Health now recommends that all Ottawa residents over the age of 70 stay home and self-isolate to protect themselves. Unless you are ill, or are under self-isolation under the Quarantine Act, you can still go outside to take a walk or walk your dog. If you need groceries, go to the store, and limit your time. For other ways to getting food, check out our food resource page. While outside, the rules are to avoid crowds and, whenever possible, to maintain at least a distance of 2 metres from people outside your household.

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Money Matters: Benefits, Taxes, Banking, Financial Relief, and Scams

Money is a taboo topic for many people. Yet, we need to think and talk about it now. COVID-19 is forcing us to change the way we spend, access, and manage our money. Governments, retail stores, banks, and other financial institutions are doing their part to ensure older adults’ financial security and needs are addressed in these challenging times. This issue provides lists of resources for older adults include government benefits, taxes, banking, managing your money, and information on frauds and scams.

Read more

Finding the Right Balance

Change is what has made us humans. Change is constant. Change is inevitable. But our current, rapid, and unpredictable change can leave us feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

We’re all different. We have different responses to change. We have different coping methods. We have different skill sets. And that’s a wonderful thing.

It also means that there is no one size fits all solution to regain our sense of control and find the right balance. Here are some ways to help you.

Read more

Responses to COVID and Seniors: COA, City, Provincial, and Federal 

COA: What has the COA been up to the last several weeks, you ask? We have been busy trying to figure out how to respond in a meaningful way to the crisis. The staff are working from their home offices now. They are meeting over video conferences with volunteers, members, partners, and funders. Here are a few of our communication, education, advocacy, and fundraising activities from the last eight weeks:

  • Checking in with our members to ask what they need
  • Publishing a weekly Special COVID-19 Update with practical and personal information for seniors and their caregivers, including fact sheets on community resources and banking
  • Sharing regular updates, resources, and news on Facebook – Don’t forgot to like us!
  • Launching a COVID-19 Survey to hear about your experiences during the early stages of the pandemic
  • Exploring ways to offer virtual education to Ottawa's seniors – starting with the completion of our Smart Aging program
  • Organizing a series of online sessions, in both official languages, about phone and online banking with the Good Companions Centre Seniors Centre without Walls – coming in June!
  • Closing our Snow Mole Campaign for Winter 2020! Watch for report soon!
  • Approving a response to the City of Ottawa’s Growth Management Strategy and urban boundary expansion
  • Mobilizing our Action Committees to plan for responses to COVID-19 now and into the future. Our first response will be on long-term care – more to come shortly
  • Launching an appeal for donations following the cancellation of our Spring Luncheon, our major fundraising event of the year! A quick thank you to those who have donated; and a reminder for those who have not, you can do so here

Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to stay true to our vision of respected, informed and engaged seniors living in an age-friendly Ottawa. We will:

  • Continue to monitor COVID-19 responses to ensure that seniors’ voices are being heard and their needs met
  • Identify and address emerging issues that impact the lives of seniors in Ottawa during the pandemic and beyond
  • Publish the weekly community events calendar for virtual and online events as a service to our organization and corporate members
  • Return to a bi-monthly newsletter with additional information, resources, stories, and news in the Special COVID-19 Updates

City of Ottawa: On March 25 the City enacted a declaration of emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public. As part of its response, the City is:

Ontario GovernmentIn addition to doubling the GAINS payments for seniors, the Ontario government has provided indirect support for seniors and persons with disabilities. Here are highlights of key provincial measures the help and protect older adults:

Federal Government: We highlighted several of the direct financial benefits for seniors announced by the federal government outlined in the Money Matters INFO-FLASHThe federal government is also providing indirect support to seniors through a variety of measures, including: 

We update our Special COVID-19 Updates page regularly and check the content for quality. Our recent additions include the six issues of the newsletter, community calendar, link to the COVID survey, and information on community resources. For information, opportunities, and resources to help you, visit our Special COVID-19 Updates page or our Facebook page.

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