Thank you very much for your thoughtful article, “It’s not easy: For seniors in Baltimore, coronavirus social distancing comes with a side effect: loneliness” (March 26). I’m writing to you as acting chair of the Baltimore City Commission on Aging, a volunteer group which advocates and advises about services for older adults throughout our city, and with many directors of Baltimore non-profits serving older adults.
Phone, Skype and FaceTime are becoming the new normal, I’m afraid. The network of Baltimore non-profits supporting older adults in the community are working to check in with them across the city to make sure they have sufficient food, medication supplies and family and friends who are their ongoing contacts for them, especially in case of an emergency. Our calls are reaching out to offer a friendly and caring voice on an ongoing basis as needed. Though we can’t be together in person, we can be together through a virtual connection.
In addition, some senior centers and non-profits are holding conference calls with their members. These calls serve as a way to bring communities together, offer information, support, educational courses and some fun, including exercise classes. In partnership with United Way’s 211’s call center, the Division on Aging, Baltimore City Health Department is working hard to make Maryland Access Point (call them at 410-396-2273) as effective as possible in providing information and connectivity to critical services to individuals who may lack support and are isolated. MAP is working directly with Meals on Wheels to provide meal delivery for Baltimore’s most vulnerable population.
As you may also know, there are neighborhood organizations throughout the city that are organizing volunteers to assist those who are not able to leave their homes for food, picking up medications, dog walking, etc. These volunteers should practice social or spatial distancing, particularly as they reach out to help older adults and persons with pre-existing conditions.
Again, thank you for recognizing how difficult this moment is, particularly for older adults and all individuals who have chronic illnesses which make them more vulnerable to the ravages of COVID-19.
Reba Cornman, MSW, Baltimore
The letter was also signed by Stephanie Archer-Smith, executive director, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, Inc.; Niki Barr, center director of Edward A. Myerberg Center; Nichole Battle, executive director, GEDCO; Lauren Averella, director of elder services, Civic Works; Laura Bristow, executive director, Action in Maturity; Tasha Cornish, executive director, St. Mary’s Outreach; Tiffany Nicolette, Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.; Betsy D. Simon, Z-HAP CEO and found (Zeta Healthy Aging Partnership); and Aileen McShea Tinney, division director of senior services, Catholic Charities of Baltimore.
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