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How can we help?

by Jan Noyes
| August 15, 2020 1:00 AM

The pandemic has hit nursing homes hard all across the country, leaving illness and death in its wake. Even though the number of assisted living and nursing home cases in North Idaho has not reached the numbers in southern and central Idaho, the number has escalated, leaving residents with anxiety, depression, and fear.

Being a resident of assisted living and nursing homes already means a loss of independence, and now isolation has been added. Family has been a source of physical and emotional comfort, but to keep residents safe, visitation has been limited and always kept at a distance. It’s hard on everyone, residents, loved ones, and staff, too.

It’s a frightening time for all isolated seniors in general who can’t spend time with their families and friends and get those well-deserved comforting hugs. They miss the smiles and the personal touch. Perhaps there is something we on the outside can do to make facility residents and those at home alone feel they have not been forgotten.

What about a letter-writing campaign to the facilities — notes, postcards, greeting cards, or children’s drawings? If you want to join in, all the names of the facilities are in your phone book under Nursing and Life Care Homes. A few of the listings are home-care businesses, but a call will tell. We can send enough for all residents, or something that can be placed on a bulletin board for all to see.

The AAA also has a phone-calling program directed to elders isolated in their homes in the larger community. The agency is offering a temporary, non-benefited, paid position to someone to make calls to designated elders. There is always room for volunteers. A phone call can make a huge difference to someone who has little contact with the outside world. For more information call 208-667-3179.

Many older citizens in our community have no one, even to visit at a distance. A note, a drawing, a postcard, or a phone call can make someone’s day infinitely brighter.

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Jan Noyes is volunteer ombudsman coordinator for the Area Agency on Aging of North Idaho, 402 W. Canfield, Ste. 1 in Coeur d’Alene.