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Significant gaps for older adults

by atemperley,
At the beginning of the storm, I was contacted by a colleague who said "what is happening in assisted living and retirement sites?" I did not know so I reached out to my network and by the end of the day I had received information on more than 30 sites- senior apartments, assisted living sites and retirement communities who were without water, electricity and in some situations food because their freezers were out or deliveries for food providers could not get through.

I spent the next week working with my contacts and networks (personal and through the Aging Services Council) to mobilize individual volunteers as well as groups to meet these needs. Here are some of the biggest issues.

1. These facilities were not networked with resources and did not know where to look for help. Most older adults did not have an emergency kit in their home.

2. Senior apartment complexes are "independent living" but many of the individuals living there have aged in place and need assistance with many tasks. In some situations, the management literally left the building. They have no requirements to provide emergency support for those in their sites.

3. Fire systems bursting due to freezing leaving many older adults not only cold and hungry but covered in cold water.

4. Independent living sites recommending that seniors get water from the pool to boil but it wasn't safe to take the stairs down.

5. At least 2 sites had to evacuate completely moving dozens of older adults to local churches where they slept on the floor for days with no ability to bathe.

6. One site had their elevator go down with the electricity going out and older adults were trapped throughout the building.

7. Older adults receiving home care, or hospice were often alone as they as not able to get to their clients.

8. Older adults were battling whether to evacuate their homes to one of the community sites and face possibilities of covid or stay in their own home in the dark without food and water.

9. One assisted living site actually called the police on volunteers who were trying to help.

There were numerous stories of dire situations during this week. I am pleased to see that there are movements to put better plans together so we don't see this kind of heartache in the future.

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