Feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise and the lockdown has exasperated the problem. Many seniors don’t know where to turn. They didn’t plan to worry about surviving a pandemic. But life doesn’t come with a script or any guarantees.

By providing access to the information seniors need, and services such as Medicare counseling, we help seniors make choices that work best for them. Our partner, the Latino Community Association, allows us to offer services to Spanish speaking clients including Medicare counseling and referrals to a myriad of resources.

Working with 450 volunteers, many of them seniors themselves, we’re developing programs to reduce isolation, nutrition risk, and food insecurity. With the help of the local fire department, the community is helping seniors who choose to age in place make their homes safer. And, one of our partners offers Tai Chi classes, which helps older adults help prevent falls.

When older veterans reach out, our case managers connect him or her directly to the right veteran services. Oregon Adult Protective Services and Legal Aid Services of Oregon get involved when low-income seniors have issues, such as apartment evictions or harassment. 

Lending a Hand in Warm Springs

We’re currently working with seniors in Warm Springs to supplement or augment their services and manage programs like Meals on Wheels. 

Recently, the reservation had issues with its water supply due to antiquated and corroding pipes. Intermittently, the water is not safe to drink. CoA volunteers are trucking in fresh drinking water to the tribe senior center and bringing masks and COVID-19 related PPE, giving the reservation faster access to those supplies.

Feeding Isolated Seniors During COVID-19

Making sure Central Oregon seniors are nutritionally sound is another priority due to a whole array of factors. Some find cooking for one a challenge. Medications can lessen the nutrient value of the foods they eat. Others are hesitant to go into a grocery store. 

That’s why we increased our drive through, free Grab-and-Go lunch program from one day to three days a week in Bend, Sisters, Prineville, La Pine and Madras.  Since the pandemic began, twice as many seniors are using the program. Thanks to our volunteers who deliver Meals on Wheels to the homebound elderly, another group in our community are eating well. 

Another partner, Open Door Café, opens its doors to homeless seniors for one hot breakfast a week. Meals on Wheels America, Oregon Community Foundation, Pacific Power, the Newhouse Charitable Fund, the Reser Foundation, the Healy Foundation, the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation, City of Bend, United Way of Central Oregon, the Board of County Commissioners, the Bend Foundation and St. Charles Foundation have provided funds to help us serve more Meals-on Wheels recipients.  Via a USDA grant obtained by SYSCO, the CoA receives 4,200 pounds of produce every week. The 120 boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables help us feed more people. 

We couldn’t be able to accomplish nearly as much as without you – our tireless volunteers, partners and donors.  Federal and state government funding simply isn’t enough to cover the actual cost of the services. For example, the list of applicants for Meal on Wheels is growing beyond our ability to fund. More caregivers need respite breaks. And, money for home safety features like ramps and rails could use more financial support.

To donate, visit councilonaging.org. If you prefer to give by check, please send your donation to: The Council on Aging, 373 NE Greenwood Street, Bend, OR 97701. 

Council on Aging of Central Oregon is a 501(c)(3) organization. Tax ID: 93-0661229 Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *