Updated: Oct 6
Many states may be opening for business, but that doesn’t mean that things are back to normal. If you’re an older adult still living at home, chances are good that you’ll continue to shelter in place. And if you or someone you love is living in a long-term care facility, it could be many weeks before you’re allowed back in for a visit.
When will things get back to normal? No one knows. In fact, some variation of social distancing may be the new normal for a very long time. No one could have foreseen the dramatic changes that would sweep through our lives within a matter of a few short weeks. Nor did anyone imagine they would last as long as they have.
So, if you’ve been stuck inside and your food and supplies are running low, stay calm. You don’t have to go outside if you don’t feel it’s safe. And you’re not alone. Help is available.
Here are some steps you can take:
Take inventory of what you have in the house and create a healthy meal plan for the coming weeks. Make a list of essential food items that you’ll need, as well as a few extra non-perishable items to stock your pantry, including dried pasta, tomato sauce, canned fruits and vegetables, and prepared soups. If you have pets, ensure that you have enough food and supplies to tide them over as well.
Next, investigate if your local grocery store has online ordering and delivery. Many of the chains including Safeway, Whole Foods, and Kroger deliver or if they don’t, you can order online and they’ll bring your groceries to your car. If you must go grocery shopping, some stores have instituted special shopping hours for seniors and those with disabilities.
Check to make sure you have basic cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, soap, facial tissue, and toilet paper on hand. You may find that you have plenty of these items already but if you do need more, top up your supplies with a reasonable amount. There’s no need to buy extra out of fear or panic.
Review your prescriptions and their renewal dates. Call your pharmacy and ask if they deliver. If they don’t do home deliveries, you may want to consider switching to a different pharmacy. It will be one less errand you’ll have to run.
In addition to the everyday food and supplies that you’ll need, what else will contribute to your wellbeing during this turbulent time? Who can you call for emotional support? What will you do for self-care? How will you connect with your church or faith community? Although social distancing is a reality right now, there are other ways to communicate with people including video chats, phone calls and online messaging. Many churches are offering weekly services by webinar, so check out that option. Be intentional and plan for how you’ll keep in touch with family and friends to prevent yourself from becoming withdrawn or isolated.
Need additional support?
There are a multitude of digital platforms available to help alleviate the feelings of loneliness and worry that can arise during a time of crisis. Care Coach for example, is an app that provides access to a team of trained health advocates 24/7 for psychosocial support and coaching. As well, the Institute on Aging offers emotional support, wellness checks, and information to seniors aged 60 and older, through their toll-free Friendship Line.
If day-to-day life still seems overwhelming and you don’t have a strong personal network to turn to, call your church or a local seniors’ club for volunteers who can bring you whatever you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.