Shelter-in-place orders went into effect in early March across the country, including here in Monterey County, California. Now we are into September and the COVID-19 pandemic is still here, with the number of cases rising again. Many of the COVID-19 safety guidelines to self-isolate are designed to protect vulnerable populations, including older adults. While many of our members have spent a lot of time “hunkering down” at home, the team at Aspire Health Plan knows that self-isolation can make older adults feel even more socially isolated and inactive than ever before.
What steps can older adults take to stay active and engaged to help beat the social isolation blues?
1. Plan your day
Days might seem like an endless blur, but it’s important to stick to a routine. It can be as simple as getting out of bed, getting dressed, and engaging in small activities. Beyond that, take time for online classes, calls with friends, reading, gardening or home projects. Each month, Aspire Health Plan hosts free Community Connections classes. Due to COVID-19, these classes are now virtual. Some of these events include lectures on diet, shopping and exercise, virtual sing-a-longs and book clubs. “I enjoy these book club meetings! They have been successful in getting me out of the scary, fearful place that COVID-19 was holding me hostage in and be more willing to engage,” says Christie, Aspire Health Plan member.
2. Stay physically active
Find exercises that can be done at home or in your neighborhood. Start by taking a walk each day. There are also plenty of online or virtual exercise programs, including Silver&Fit® (for Aspire members), Montage Wellness Center and the Monterey Sports Center. We also post additional opportunities on our Facebook page.
3. Don’t be afraid to stay home, but remember to stay safe
Always remember to follow guidance for older adults from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Practice social distancing and avoid close contact with others whenever possible, cover your face in public, carry and use hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently.
4. Reach out and help others
If you’re feeling lonely, others might be, too. Remember to reach out to those who may need to hear a friendly voice on the phone. With the help of Montage Health, Salinas Valley PrimeCare Medical Group, and Community Health Innovations, the Aspire Health Plan team was able to make 4,400 calls to members. You let us know you needed masks. From there, we collected supplies and delivered them to 50 Aspire members, who volunteered to sew over 300 masks. “In making masks for those in need, I felt like I was beginning to bridge the divide that seems to separate us these days,” says Martha, an Aspire Health Plan member.
5. Accept help from others
Aspire Health Plan is here for our members. We mentioned that the Aspire Health Plan team contacted each member individually during this time. There are many individuals and organizations here in the Monterey County community that are working to help during this time. Your healthcare partners are positioned to be nimble and respond quickly to change, well prepared to put necessary precautions in place to keep our members safe and secure. We’re positive.
If you have any questions, or need resources, please call Member Services at (855) 570-1600: (TTY users call 711).