Now serving 1500 weekly during COVID-19
By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — Fear, isolation and loneliness, during the shelter at home mandated by the governor. No one can feel more isolated or lonely than frail senior citizens who live alone, are up in age, and can’t get out for vital needs such as medications or food. Many have no one to call and check on them during regular seasons; let alone in a time of national quarantine. Enter CAC Knoxville’s Office on Aging.
The Office on Aging in Knoxville is responsible for assessing needs and planning and developing resources to care for the senior citizens it serves. For over 45 years its mission has been to help older residents achieve and maintain a higher quality of life to avoid institutionalization. Now, more than ever, the services are needed as the COVID-19 virus threatens this segment of the population.
The agency has revamped several programs to keep serving the citizens; the oldest of whom is 103. Acting as ‘‘remote case workers” coordinator Deisha Finley explained how the Senior Care Program that has in the past provided in home visits from 4 to 16 hours weekly, and the RSVP Senior Care community-based program that helped seniors with grocery visits and meal delivery have paused, and a new program has allowed the center to continue serving.
There are now daily calls asking questions to ensure the senior is taking their meds and are eating every day. These wellness checks on the aged have reduced their social isolation and has helped them with access to food and medication and greatly reduced their loneliness by simply providing someone to talk to. It is also proving to be a life saver. If the person called does not answer the phone the emergency contact listed is called by CAC who then checks on the person thru the landlord or 911 is used by the agency if there is no one to call.
Their efforts to serve over the number of seniors which has swollen to over 1500 weekly have also been successful in the following ways: Using local delivery services, they are securing food and medicine and are able to refer them to Mobile Meals as need; the agency is providing emergency food items, providing grief support, assisting with scam protection, and even help establish a new routine for life during the stay home order.
Executive Director Dottie Lyvers also shared that the center is working with new creative ways to serve by using safety protocols such as use of apps, drive by deliveries, and door-to-door drop off. Seniors are also enjoying Zoom Coffee hours and online live exercise programs.
COVID-19 has not deterred CAC’s mission of “People serving People”
For Assistance and information call the Senior information and referral line at 865-546-6262 or reach out to Deisha Finley at [email protected]