Coronavirus outbreak: How seniors can get help with groceries, meals, medicine

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Amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, our everyday routines have been drastically affected — and that might mean some Americans in the most vulnerable groups are struggling to get basic needs met, such as feeding themselves, or just talking to someone during self-isolation.

During this stressful time, there are a few resources that can help.

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Those over 60 years old, or anyone with underlying health problems, have been advised to self-isolate, which can potentially disrupt everyday life when it comes to tasks like grocery shopping or getting medication.

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If you need groceries, but are unable to go to the supermarket – even during one of the designated times certain chains have set aside for vulnerable populations – there are delivery options available. Target, Whole Foods and Walmart are among the chain retail stores that offer delivery.

Pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS have also waived delivery fees, and are offering one- or two-day deliveries for free, even from telehealth screenings, so seniors are not forced to travel to pick up medication if they are sick.

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For those who are older, but unable to cook for themselves or order supplies, Meals on Wheels has changed its model to offer “no contact” delivery to limit contact between volunteers and those receiving the meals.

“We serve a frail and vulnerable population and we want to ensure that they remain safe, but still receive the food that is so vital for their health,” said Meals on Wheels People CEO Suzanne Washington in a press release.

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And for those who want a more neighborly touch, communities across Canada (and some in the U.S.) have started a viral movement called “caremongering,” where those in need can utliize social media for help with grocery runs, emergency supplies and other errands, or even just a phone call to check in.

In addition to shopping during senior hours and getting no-contact delivery, the CDC recommends washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, nose and mouth, and cleaning and sanitizing high-touch areas in your home often.

Though all of these precautions are intended to keep the most vulnerable populations from getting sick, if you do suspect you have coronavirus, it is recommended to stay home and call your doctor ahead of time, instead of showing up at the hospital first. Seniors, too, are now able to access medical care online or via telephone, which can help potentially diagnose or explain next steps.

“It’s this idea that you can interact with your doctor, your care facility without increasing your exposure to the virus. Medicare is even paying now for telehealth services,” Jason Young, senior vice president of media relations for AARP said.

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