What Happens to Seniors and Veterans During a Pandemic?
Covid-19 has hit all of us hard, but for seniors and veterans, it can be even harder.
THE STORY: Covid-19 has affected us all in different ways this year. Some of us got ill. Some of us started working from home full-time while also trying to parent at the same time. Some of us lost jobs and a lot of us have been dealing with financial hardships. But for the seniors and veterans in the U.S., the COVID situation has been even harder as they’re often the ones who are left behind.
HERE’S THE DEAL: There are many reasons COVID has been harder for seniors and veterans to deal with.
One of the biggest concerns for seniors is the fact that simply by their age they are in a higher risk category for COVID. More than that though is the fact that the system has a tendency to forget about them in hard times. For instance, senior citizens in nursing homes have been at greater risk for COVID due to failures in testing, lack of PPE equipment, and insufficient care. Then there’s the issue of millions of low-income seniors who already lacked access to healthy food and adequate nutrition who are now struggling even more due to social distancing requirements that equal fewer group meals at senior homes and fewer volunteers able to deliver meals. These same low-income seniors are also in trouble because they often don’t have the income to stock up on food items, may have special diets due to underlying health issues, and may need transportation to and from the grocery store. This lack of nutrition heightens their risk of COVID even more. (And let’s not forget the mental and emotional toll that comes from being socially isolated.)
When it comes to veterans, they’re in a similar boat. Veteran homes have also been hit hard by COVID. Homeless veterans have it worse. The entire veteran health care system is being strained at the moment, making it harder for veterans to get what they need. Then there are veterans who are receiving care at home from a family member or friend. Dealing with COVID has stretched these caregivers thin as they’re now unable to receive a helping hand from outside family & friends due to social distancing, have reported shortages of hygiene and sanitization supplies forcing them to trade supplies online, and are often dealing with immune-comprised veterans who are at higher risk of contagion.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: So what can be done to help the people who are having a more difficult time? Below is a list of resources for seniors and veterans.
SNAP is one resource for low-income seniors who need help with getting nutritious food.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Plan works to improve the health of low-income elderly persons at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA foods via food packages. (Not available in all states)
The National Council on Aging has several resources dedicated to both economic and food security.
Meals on Wheels operates in most communities delivering nutritious meals to seniors.
Top Chef Meals provides meals tailored to individual health needs as well as a senior discount. With us, healthy meals are shipped directly to a person’s home, helping them stay socially distanced and healthy.
And if you have a neighbor or family member who could maybe use a helping hand, consider going and getting groceries for them.
If you’re a caregiver of a veteran, you can apply for a helping hand at Hidden Heroes. There, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation & VA have set up a fund to allocate 75,000 hours of professional at-home care at no cost.
The AARP has a long list of resources for veterans that includes help for caregivers, financial help, and mental health resources.
The VA also has a page that provides a long list of answers to frequently asked COVID-related questions.
Top Chef Meals provides meals tailored to individual tastes and health needs, as well as a veterans’ discount. Our meals enable caregivers to have one less thing on their plate and provide the ability to maintain social distancing with our home delivery.
THE WRAP-UP: Seniors and veterans are having a more difficult time than most this year due to the tendency of the system to leave them behind, but there are ways they can get the help they need. If you know a senior or veteran who needs a helping hand, please share this list of resources with them!