Staying at home for weeks on end during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a strange, tough road for most young people. How do you get food, supplies and medicine when you’re not supposed to go out? How do you deal with being away from friends?

Those are the same questions many seniors face every day as they try to live independently at home. It’s a challenge to get what you need without feeling like you’re imposing on friends, going out into the risky COVID-19 world or using unfamiliar online shopping services. And what happens if a fall, illness or weather emergency further complicates your life at home?

No one knows when we’ll have a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment. Until then, it’s smart for seniors to have an emergency plan to get what you need and stay safe as we wait for life to return to near-normal.

Making a Plan

1. List your personal support network. List the people who could help you in an emergency—family, friends (the pandemic counts, but it could also be a weather emergency or injury). Then ask them to be part of your support network. Make sure one of them has a key to your home and knows where you keep your emergency supplies. If you use a wheelchair, oxygen or other medical equipment, show a friend how to use these devices so they can move you, if necessary.

2. Make a communication plan. Plan how you will contact your support network, when needed, and what you will do in different situations. If you have a mobile phone or emergency signaling device, keep it charged and with you at all times.

3. Plan for getting the essentials. If you don’t already have a reliable way to get your groceries and personal supplies, work with your support network to set up a schedule. If you are not technology-savvy, find a person in your network who can shop for you weekly or help you arrange deliveries from local stores. Make sure you have enough (but don’t hoard) hygiene basics, such as tissues, toilet paper, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Don’t forget pet food, if needed.

4. Plan for medical needs. Order your medications before you run out (get as much as the pharmacy allows). Keep medical alert tags on. Keep hearing aids and eyeglasses nearby. Keep chargers and/or extra batteries handy for any assistive devices or equipment you use.

5. Plan for leaving your home. Decide where you would go if you cannot stay at home. Could a person in your support network take you in? Ahead of time, choose several places you could go in different directions from your home. If you need medical transport or cannot travel by yourself, make arrangements in advance. If you have pets, plan for their care if they cannot go with you.

6. Consider staying put, with help. Whether the COVID-19 risk continues, you may be able to continue to live independently by hiring help. In-home, non-medical senior care is widely available in Rock County. Services often include help with personal care, housekeeping, meal preparation, errands, medication reminders and companionship. Contact matters: Social ties are one of the strongest predictors of well-being, yet about 12% of seniors say they rarely or never receive the social and emotional support they need, according to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.*

Whether you’re staying at home because of the pandemic or are concerned about other emergencies, having a support plan is a smart move. It can ease your worries and help you get what you need quickly. Learn more about creating your own emergency plan at www.ready.gov.

* McGuire LC, Strine TW, Okoro CA, Ahluwalia IB, Ford ES. Modifiable characteristics of a healthy lifestyle in U.S. older adults with or without frequent mental distress: 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2007;15:754-761.

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The Insiders: This article is sponsored by Age at Home by Agrace

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