'Give them kindness': Some seniors could face greater isolation during pandemic
VANCOUVER -- At a time when many people are trying to stay home and keep further apart, some seniors may be at risk of greater isolation.
Older people, particularly those with health conditions, are thought to be at higher risk of severe illness or complications from COVID-19, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Senior Services Society of B.C. CEO Alison Silgardo said getting seniors rides with volunteer drivers to medical appointments is one of the biggest challenges right now.
“Quite a few of (the volunteers) are seniors themselves, and have been advised to keep the practices of social distancing, and have had to do that, very reluctantly I might add,” Silgardo said.
There have also been some recent challenges around food. Silgardo said a local casino that had been providing a hot meal service delivered to seniors three times a week had to stop after all casinos closed due to the pandemic. Luckily, they found another provider. But Silgardo said even ordering groceries online for seniors has proven more difficult, due to online ordering systems being swamped.
“Even when we got through the online system, the delivery won’t be for a week, which is quite a challenge. So we’re looking at ways to work with the city to see if we can have staff or other volunteers that are stepping up to be able to provide that service.”
Lisa Hood runs Friendly Neighbour Senior Services, which provides companionship and other supports such as light housekeeping to seniors. However, she said her clients and their families have postponed visits for now.
“They’re all devastated, as I am as well, but it’s understandable,” Hood said. “The isolation issues around that are going to be pretty high as well.”
Hood said she knows of one client who lives on the ground floor of a care centre, whose family plans to go and say hi to him through a window. She added technology, like video calling, could help bridge the gap for some seniors.
“You just have to look for those moments to give them kindness,” Hood said, and added there are people who are offering help to the isolated. “I think there’s a lot of angels that have appeared out of this mess that’s we’re in.”
Bosley’s pet store franchisee Karima Jivraj is setting aside a window of time (8:30 to 10 a.m.) on Friday morning at her New Westminster location specifically so seniors and other vulnerable people can get their shopping done.
“We got a lot of feedback from the community that seniors are scared to come out and don’t really want to interact with too many people,” Jivraj told CTV News Vancouver. “There’ll be three of us on staff, and we’ll letting just a limited number of people in at a time.”
Leona Green of Green’s and Beans deli and cafe in New Westminster has been making and giving away soup for isolated seniors and anyone who needs it for the last few days now.
“I came in on Sunday and made the biggest pot of chicken noodle soup I could,” Green said, and added that day, about 30 soups went out into the community after she put the offer out on social media.
Though the deli’s inside seating area is temporarily closed, they are still staying open to do take-out orders. During CTV’s visit, Green helped package up a small box with soups she said was headed to a senior.
“Apparently the fellow’s confused, and he’s all alone and lonely,” Green said. “It just seems like the right thing to do.”
The Senior Services Society said people who want to help can make a donation through their website or call if they’re able to volunteer.