Article By: Lisa Stern, AVP Senior and Adults Services, FCA
The stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19 has increased the vulnerability of Long Island seniors. Despite self-isolation and social distance protocols, FCA, a not-for-profit agency helping more than 30,000 Long Islanders each year continues valuable outreach by phone. During this difficult time, FCA has found creative ways to continue its services and has seen a 20 percent increase in calls to the senior services department.
It is important for Long Islanders to know that FCA is here and willing and able to help. FCA’s staff continues to work closely with NY Connects, Nassau County Office for the Aging, the senior center programs and hospitals to reach out to all seniors in need. FCA has more than 300 active clients in the case management program who have been very appreciative of having case managers check in on them regularly.
Isolation can be as dangerous to an older adult as an illness. Research suggests that isolation and loneliness are linked to high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. FCA’s Friendly Visiting Program is continuing to visit 25 seniors by phone. Any senior who would like to receive a call from a Friendly Visitor on a weekly basis can access this service now by contacting Jessica DiCarlo at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the FCA Senior Program at (516) 292-1300.
FCA’s chore workers are no longer going into people’s homes, but they have been delivering food packages and picking up drugstore items and prescriptions for clients. FCA clients report that the more contact they have with the staff, the less lonely and isolated they feel. Case managers are educating older adults about the virus and how they can protect themselves, and also address the importance of exercise, good nutrition, relaxation and communicating with others.
The Safe, Observant Seniors Program (SOS) works to prevent elder abuse and educates seniors to help protect them from falling victim to abusers of all types; physical, emotional and financial. The program has targeted the increase in financial scams aimed at older adults, working with senior centers, libraries, police, banks and senior agencies to raise awareness and provide education on how seniors can protect themselves. FCA is continuing to send out information regarding COVID-19 scams to make sure older adults are aware of these new threats.
While seniors are always vulnerable to abuse, during this time of confinement some older adults are trapped at home with their abuser as a large percentage of abusers are related to or familiar to the senior, and some live with the senior. FCA’s SOS team has also continued to field calls from homes and family members that are self-quarantining and raising concerns about potential abuse.
FCA’s Ombudservice Program has NYS trained volunteers who protect resident rights and navigate complaints in Nursing Homes/Adult Homes and Assisted Living facilities. With visitation suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, many families are concerned about loved ones who may be vulnerable and alone in these facilities. FCA posts flyers in these group residences about how seniors can contact the ombudsman program. Ombudservice volunteers follow up with the facility staff and connect with the residents over the phone. FCA has seen a tremendous increase in family calls to the program, with calls 50 percent higher these past few weeks.
FCA Linkage Project provides short term counseling to older adults with mental health challenges in the community. This program is continuing to provide counseling and support by phone. The FCA Linkage Project is taking new referrals and staying in close contact with their clients.
The senior financial counseling program continues to offer guidance and advice. FCA has rescheduled tax assistance appointments and is continuing to help guide seniors through the filing process with the new extended July 15 deadline. The Bill Payer volunteers continue to provide telephone contact with their clients and are contacting utility companies for clients if their payments will be delayed.
FCA senior division will continue to deliver a wide array of programs that work collaboratively to provide individualized, comprehensive and confidential services seamlessly throughout this challenging time.
FCA’s Senior and Adult Services are made possible with funding from the Nassau County Department of Human Services, Office for the Aging through New York State Office for the Aging, the U.S. Administration on Aging and US Administration for Community Living. Department of Health and Human Services Washington D.C. Programs are also supported by grants received from the Fay J. Lindner Foundation, Manhasset Community Fund, Ferriday Foundation, NY State Department of Health, NY State Office of Mental Health, NY Division of Criminal Justice, Huguette Clark Foundation, Federal VOCA Victim and Witness Assistance, New York State Office of Victims Services, and Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc.