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COVID-19

  • COVID-19 Consumer Tip Sheet: Scams and Medicare Coverage

    smp logoScams related to the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, are rapidly increasing as the public health emergency develops. Scammers are targeting older adults and those with serious long-term health conditions who appear to have a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

    Fraudsters are attempting to bill Medicare for sham tests or treatments related to the coronavirus and are targeting individuals to illegally obtain money or Medicare numbers.

    What Can You Do to Stop COVID-19 Fraud?

    • Do not give out your Medicare number to anyone other than your doctor or other health care provider.
    • Protect your Medicare number and treat your Medicare card like a credit card.
    • Never provide your Medicare number to anyone who contacts you through unsolicited calls, texts, or emails.
    • Be cautious of anyone who comes to your door offering free coronavirus testing, treatment, or supplies.
    • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know, which could put your computer or device at risk. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer are up to date.
    • Be cautious when purchasing medical supplies from unverified sources, including online advertisements and email/phone solicitations.
    • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention products or cures for COVID-19, they are most likely a scam.
    • Do your homework before making a donation to a charity or crowdfunding site due to a public health emergency. Be particularly wary of any charities requesting donations by cash, by gift card, or wire transfer.
    • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19 and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

     What Does Medicare Cover in Relation to COVID-19?

    • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers COVID-19 tests when ordered by your doctor or health care provider on or after February 4, 2020.
    • Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations, including extra days in the hospital for patients who had to stay longer under COVID-19 quarantine.
    • There is no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time; however, if one becomes available, Medicare will cover it.
    • Medicare also recently expanded coverage of telehealth services to enable beneficiaries to access a wider range of services from their providers without having to travel to a facility.
      • This includes access to doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers.
      • During this emergency, there are also more options for the ways your providers can talk with you under this provision.

    For Medicare coverage questions, contact your local State Health Insurance AssistanceProgram (SHIP) at their website, or call 1-877-839-2675.

     Other COVID-19 Resources:

    How Your Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Can Help

    Your local SMP is ready to provide you with the information you need to PROTECT yourself from Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse; DETECT potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and REPORT your concerns. SMPs and their trained volunteers help educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries in the fight against health care fraud. Your SMP can help you with your questions, concerns, or complaints about potential fraud and abuse issues. It also can provide information and educational presentations.

    To locate your state Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP): Visit the Senior Medicare Patrol website or call 1-877-808-2468.

    Supported by a grant (No. 90MPRC0001) from the Administration for Community Living (ACL),U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

  • COVID-19, Social Distancing, and You

    close up of hands being washedCoronavirus (SARS Cov-2) is the virus responsible for causing the disease COVID-19.  We are all connected and are experiencing this virus as an international pandemic. At the writing of this, March 15, 2020, there are no reported known active cases of COVID-19 in Franklin County. In fact, rural areas will be exposed at a different rate than our more urban neighbors and as the pandemic emerges across our nation. Our responses and resources will require us to depend on our local community hospitals, agencies, and one another.  

    What We Know. While knowledge about the coronavirus is emerging, still there is much to learn. What we do know that is important, is that it is highly contagious, spread by respiratory droplets (coughing, sneezing) and contact (including surfaces we touch). Symptoms of this virus range from very little or no symptoms to mild, moderate, and severe respiratory manifestations. This range of worsening symptoms is associated with older age and underlying states of poorer health. The Centers of Disease Control (March 2020), currently estimate mortality rates that range significantly from 0.2% among persons age 40 and younger to upwards of 8% among people age 80 and over.

    It is important to recognize that most people are surviving COVID-19 and need their supports in place.

    Supporting Health in Place. It is important to recognize that most people are surviving COVID-19 and need their supports in place. These supports include the basics of food, hydration, rest, medications, and time to recover. Stock up on supplies. If you are sick, call (do not visit) your local primary care provider or health care facility. For all of us, social distancing, basic hand hygiene, basic infectious disease precautions (covering our coughs and sneezes, washing surfaces), and supporting our ongoing health (nutrition, sleep, social support, adherence to prescription medications, and self-monitoring of health) are vital. 

    It Takes Time. Researchers, Baum & Sa, as reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine (March 10, 2020), are now learning more about the average time from contact with the coronavirus to sickness. For the vast majority of persons, the time between reporting symptoms from the original contact is 14 days. This estimated time frame is the basis for our current public health recommendations to limit in-person social contact. The goal is to slow down the curve or rapid expression of the virus in too many people at one time.  

    Social Distancing is a Key Step. Social distancing helps keep the number of cases of infected people manageable for health care providers and hospitals to provide care.* This is everyone’s responsibility. According to the Gerontological Society of America’s National Adult Vaccine Program, social distancing is a public health term that describes actions to stop or slow the spread of contagious diseases like COVID-19. This is done by avoiding places where you may come into direct contact with other people, germs in the air, or contaminated surfaces. In supporting the importance of social distancing, state officials have insisted that spaces and places of close personal contact (schools, conferences, congregate meals, religious spaces of worship) all close or cease from in-person work in favor of online connection when and if possible. 

    Challenges in Close Caregiving. Some of us will also require and need ongoing contact with caregivers. This is not a time to distance from those human beings we depend on, nor is it a time to avoid those that may need us if they become sick. In cases where contact is needed to deliver care, the same precautions are important (diligent handwashing, cleaning and disinfecting potentially contaminated surfaces, and having an alternative caregiver if one is actively symptomatic: feeling ill, flu-like symptoms, dry cough, fever).

    Getting Sick.  If you or someone you know is sick and needs to go to the emergency department, call first for instructions and guidance. If you have respiratory illness symptoms, avoid contact with others and call your healthcare provider. If you must go out, wear a mask. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, you will be asked to self-quarantine in your home.

    Coping with Anxiety. Finally, this is a time of increased public anxiety, stress, and panic in response to a continuous news feed that is of deep concern to all of us.  While these messages help us take precautions and support readiness, they increase our stress. It is important to monitor your response to this stress and the responses of those close to you. If the stress of COVID-19 and social isolation are getting to you, seek care and connection. Watch for symptoms of uncertainty, frustration, loneliness, anger, boredom, or a desire to use alcohol or drugs. Talk about your feelings to those close to you. Reach out by telephone to check in on one another and discuss your feelings, responses, and needs. You may need access to, or increased professional help at this time. Social distancing does not mean losing all social connection. Recognize that many people are stressed and may show different coping responses, including appearing distracted and having a difficult time with sleep, concentration, and coping. Be patient with one another. Reaching out (by telephone) to a professional mental health provider and/or to people you are close to is the safest way.  Recognize at this time our care for one another is necessary.

    *Our hospitals, emergency departments, and Intensive Care Units need to be focused on the care of those who get more severe cases and require acute respiratory support.  If you or someone you know develops severe illness, acute hospital care is necessary and calling is the first step to appropriate care!

  • Interview With a Mask Maker: Helping the Helpers

    Amanda Barrow, wearing one of her creations.Amanda Barrow, wearing one of her creations.When LifePath put out a call for Personal Protective Equipment (including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer) to be used in our programs where we are in contact with elders and persons with disabilities, the overwhelming response was heartwarming. One of the many people who contacted us was Amanda Barrow, who offered to make 20 masks for us from her late mother’s fabric supply. Along with donating the masks, Amanda agreed to answer a few questions for The Good Life.

    1. What motivated you/gave you the idea to make masks?

    When the COVID-19 event began to be a real thing for me in mid-February, I decided that I wanted to get involved with helping helpers. I knew that I couldn't actually manufacture N-95 masks, the type that doctors use in the hospital, etc. I wanted to make something more simple, for the everyday person, something that I could just sort of ''bang out'' quickly, to put it bluntly. I'm a pretty good seamstress. I saw a post from my friend Noe Kidder on Facebook, and she is sewing face masks in Brooklyn, NY. Then I saw a more local group on Facebook, and hooked up with them, DIY MASKS OF WESTERN MASS.* I remember my mom talking about ''Bundles for Britain'' that she was involved with in the 1940's. She made handknit hats and mittens for the soldiers that were shipped to Britain, and I wanted to do something similar for my community, but only with masks.

    2. What made you use your mother's fabric?

    My mother passed away almost 25 years ago, and she was an obsessive quilter and knitter; she made beautiful and intricate hand-stitched items. Her ''craft room'' was filled with unused quilt fabric after she died. My siblings and I split up the fabric, and I've been moving it from place to place for 25 years, using it in my artwork, and also giving it away. When I read that very tightly woven fabric should be used in the fabrication of these face masks, I instantly thought of my mom's quilting fabric. I had so much I gave some to my friend Pamela Matsuda-Dunn, who is also sewing masks for caregivers, pharmacists, friends, family, etc. I thought it would be a wonderful thing to share mom's fabric, which has been in plastic bags-release her loving fabric out into the world as little protection devices. She would've loved this project!

    I thought it would be a wonderful thing to share mom's fabric, which has been in plastic bags-release her loving fabric out into the world as little protection devices.

    3. What was your mom's name and tell me a little about her.

    My mom's name was Josephine, and she was a very smart and down-to-earth woman. She was born in Indiana and pretty much stayed there all of her life. In the mid-sixties, she divorced my father and went back to school to get her MSW (Masters in Social Work). She had four kids to raise, and needed to work. After graduating from graduate school, she got a job at a childrens' hospital in Indianapolis, and worked with kids and adults for I believe 28 years. She was an excellent seamstress, knitter, quilter, etc. She was the type of person who could pick up textile-related skills very easily. She passed those skills onto my sister, me, AND one of my brothers (he knits and sews too!). She had three cancers, and the last one got her (breast, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and leukemia). She died at age 66. She was a sweetie!

    4. How many masks have you made so far?  How many did you end up making for LifePath?

    I've made around 55 masks so far. I finally got my elastic today so I can make more, but I also have a life. LifePath will be the recipient of 20 masks. LifePath will get some funny ones . . . I found some kitty fabric that my mom had. She loved cats! So I hope someone ends up with a kitty mask and gets a few laughs from it. I also found some gorgeous blue fabric with some nice block printing . . . that's a nice mask too!

    5. Tell us a little about yourself and your art.

    I'm a visual artist and live in Easthampton, MA with my musician-husband Carl Clements who is a saxophone performer/composer; he teaches at Amherst College and Springfield College presently. My studio is located in Easthampton, where I teach printmaking classes, and also maintain a painting studio. I teach around the world (India, Germany, Iceland), and am hoping that the three classes I have scheduled for Germany in early June will happen, as well as my workshop in Iceland on October 10! But who knows . . . 

    A mask being sewn on an old fashioned sewing machine.A mask in process.I have a sponsor, Speedball Art/Akua Inks, and I teach monotype printmaking with sustainable products and inks that clean up with warm soapy water. In my paintings, I use some of my mom's fabrics to create ''collage paintings.'' I incorporate fabric on top of cheesecloth, silk, and linen to create work that hopefully suggests to the viewer ideas of the past, future, and present moment.  I've been an artist most of my 60 years on the planet. My family was very supportive of my gifts and talent, and I'm blessed to have a great clan. My next show is with the Affordable Art Fair/NYC September 23-27. 

    These masks are not only functional but also ornamental as well. One can't speak very well when one wears a mask, and I'm actually starting to think of them as art pieces. These days, I see human rights issues going down the toilet in this country, and in a way, the mask is the perfect object or vehicle to be used as a metaphor in that context. The idea of the mask is starting to infiltrate my creative process . . . who knows what I'll come up with in my studio at this point, now that I've been touched by COVID-19. You are welcome to sign up for my newsletter to find out about my workshops and open studio events, and gallery exhibitions, at my website.

    6. How did you hear about LifePath?

    My friend Mona Shiber, who is an artist in my building at One Cottage Street in Easthampton, forwarded me an email that LifePath was looking for masks. She was my connection.

    7. How long does it take you to make each mask/what is your general process?

    Now that I have the process down, I guess it's taking me about 15 minutes per mask. I use a method from the Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, IN. They put a call out for masks, and gave instructions online. It's the most simple pattern I could find.

    8. What else do you feel it's important for people to know?

    These masks are used by everyone. I wear mine when I shop at the market, go to the Post Office, CVS, etc. I saw a guy wearing one the other day while riding his bike!

    *If you are a seamster or seamstress, or have fabric, 1/4'' elastic, an old sewing machine that works, or anything like that to donate, please get in touch with DIY Masks of Western Mass on Facebook. Thank you!

  • Massachusetts Public Health Fact Sheet: 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Download this fact sheet as a printable PDF

    February 27, 2020

    A new infectious disease known as COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This viral infection has resulted in thousands of confirmed human infections, with the vast majority of cases in China. Other countries, including the United States, have identified a growing number of cases in people who have traveled to China. More recently, transmission has been noted in some countries that has not been directly linked to cases in China, indicating community-level transmission in some places.

    How does coronavirus spread?

    Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (such as droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Information about how this novel coronavirus spreads is still limited.

    What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    This coronavirus causes a respiratory (lung) infection. Symptoms of this infection include:

    • fever
    • coughing
    • shortness of breath
    • in severe cases, pneumonia (infection in the lungs).

    While most people recover from this infection, some infections can lead to severe disease or death. Older people and those with pre-existing medical problems seem to have a greater risk for severe disease.

    What are the treatments? Is there a vaccine?

    There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19, other than supportive care and relief of symptoms. Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect people from infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.

    How can I protect myself?

    Although risk to Massachusetts residents from COVID-19 is low, the same precautions to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect against other respiratory viruses:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
    • Stay home if you are sick.

    Should I wear a mask when I go out in public?

    The health risk to Massachusetts residents remains low and we are not recommending that people wear masks when they are in public. Masks can be useful to prevent someone who has a respiratory illness from spreading it to others but there is no hard evidence that wearing a mask protects the wearer outside of the healthcare setting.

    How do you test a person for COVID-19?

    Testing for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is only available through the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Any healthcare provider who suspects a person is infected with 2019 Novel Coronavirus should call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to discuss testing, at (617) 983-6800.

    Should I be tested for COVID-19?

    Only those who have been in a place where COVID-19 is occurring, or have had close contact with someone who has it, and are experiencing flu-like symptoms, should be tested.

    What should I do if I have visited a place where COVID-19 is occurring or if I had close contact with someone who has it?

    As of February 3, 2020, if you have been in China, or you have had close contact with someone who has the virus, you may be asked to avoid contact with other people (“quarantine”), depending on your likelihood of exposure. You should also:

    • Monitor your health for 14 days after your last possible exposure.
    • Watch for these signs and symptoms:
      1. fever
      2. coughing
      3. shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Other early symptoms could be chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, and runny nose.
    • If you develop any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider.
    • Before going to your medical appointment, be sure to tell your healthcare provider about your possible exposure to COVID-19.

    Where can I learn more about COVID-19?

    For updated information, visit the DPH website. More detailed information and additional guidance is available from the CDC.

    For questions

    Contact your doctor, clinic, or local board of health (in the phone book under Local Government). Contact the DPH Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences at (617) 983-6800.

    Download this fact sheet as a printable PDF

  • RSVP Volunteers Stay Safe and Well During the COVID Crisis: Help While Still Protecting Your Health

    Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesPat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesDuring this national emergency, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley has instituted several steps to protect our 600+ volunteers who are 55 and older. Since seniors are one of the target groups for the COVID-19 virus, RSVP has closed its office and staff members are working from home. Site Partner meetings, Healthy Bones and Balance Leader meetings, New Leader training and New Volunteer Orientations are postponed until a future date. Volunteers are asked to follow guidelines for washing hands, staying home and instituting social distancing. We asked our volunteers to let their volunteer site know that they will be back once the pandemic is over. 

    Other volunteers are donating and bagging food at community survival centers and the bags will be available for curbside pickup or delivered to those unable to travel for pickup. 

    RSVP staff is connected to our volunteers by voicemail and email to provide help. For example, a call from someone who wanted to volunteer was quickly processed and that volunteer is now delivering meals to seniors. Other volunteers are donating and bagging food at community survival centers and the bags will be available for curbside pickup or delivered to those unable to travel for pickup. Most important, volunteers are helping neighbors who are in need. 

    Lynne Feldman, Director of Community Services at LifePath, reports, “LifePath continues to recruit backup volunteers should current volunteers or staff not be able to come to work, or should new needs emerge, due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you would like to register as a backup volunteer, you may do so by calling 413-773-5555.”

    For information regarding services in the area, visit Look4Help.org, an online service of RSVP’s sponsor, Community Action of the Pioneer Valley. Baystate Franklin Medical Center needs volunteers and the application process is accessible at Baystate Health. If you have any questions or want to help while still protecting your health, please contact Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin Counties at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 413-387-1286. Ginger Elliott is the RSVP Volunteer Coordinator for Hampden County and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 413-387-1296. Be well.

  • Seniorgram: LifePath’s Role, And Yours, In Support of Our Community

    Barbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorThe local impact of COVID-19 has caused us all to assess and fortify our preparedness to care for ourselves and our loved ones, to prevent further spread, and mitigate the risk to the most vulnerable populations, which are those served through LifePath. We take our responsibility seriously to do everything possible to protect the health and wellbeing of the elders and individuals with disabilities within our communities. That means planning, advocating, and providing support  and services as best we can, through our own infrastructure, reaching out to professional partners and to the community at large.

    Our focus is on responding to the changing needs of those we serve, offering services to new consumers, staying current on any COVID-19 related developments, communicating up to date and accurate information, being a resource for callers, and securing whatever support is needed to continue to do our work.

    Training staff and volunteers to keep themselves and those with whom they interact healthy and safe is essential. We have moved most of our administrative functions off site with staff fully equipped and capable to work remote from home. Assessments are occurring telephonically and through the use of video connections to reduce contact with consumers. Our focus is on responding to the changing needs of those we serve, offering services to new consumers, staying current on any COVID-19 related developments, communicating up to date and accurate information, being a resource for callers, and securing whatever support is needed to continue to do our work. 

    In the face of heightened concern and a growing number of COVID-19 cases in our community, we are having to address real life concerns faced by consumers and those providing support.  Volunteers have needed to step away from their duties in an effort to protect themselves and others. Some Meals on Wheels recipients are refusing meal delivery out of fear of having the virus passed over their threshold. There are those who participate in our Personal Care Attendant (PCA) program who are impaired physically to the extent of needing someone they trust to prepare daily meals, help with bathing, and make sure they move safely about their home. Consumers are voicing their concerns about how they will continue to live independently if they find themselves or those who support them needing to be quarantined.

    It’s not lost on consumers that without the support provided though LifePath, they will need to relinquish some, if not all, of the independence they’ve come to, well, depend on. Conversely, by letting caregivers and support staff inside their home who may carry the virus unknowingly, consumers are literally risking their lives to survive. There is no truer conundrum than to be acutely aware of the risks and to embrace the potential reality of not being cared for. 

    At the forefront of our concerns is the impending loss of front-line workers, primarily home health aides, personal care attendants, homemakers and volunteer meals drivers, and the direct impact on those who rely upon their support. These workers and volunteers are some of the most dedicated, hard working, and proud employees in the workforce. It is essential that these care providers who cannot always maintain the 6’ of distance from those receiving care have the proper personal protective equipment, known as PPE, to maintain their safety, as well as protecting those receiving care. We must also consider the vulnerability of  the informal caregiving provided by family, friends, and neighbors and how fragile these systems are today.  

    The silver lining of this pandemic is the generosity of spirit manifesting within our communities.  The activation and creation of community-based systems is happening throughout our region with offers of many to step up to care for those in need. This blossoming of community is what will sustain us through these uncertain times and carry us to a better place where barriers are diminished and support is flowing to one another in a more sustainable manner. 

    We need to consider creative ways to address the inevitable loss of support of family caregivers and direct service workers unable to continue to provide care. It is time to think outside the box and look to nursing schools, to students who have completed training in providing personal care, workers who have stepped away from the field, or simply to a willing neighbor aware of someone who relies upon others for care.  Another idea is the creation of a neighborhood watch of sorts to look out for those neighbors who have lost caregivers or whose family members cannot visit because they are quarantined. Though social distancing is a best practice, is there someone you can be responsible to check on within your neighborhood? Or might you be willing to take on volunteer duties with LifePath to serve those who don’t have anyone?  

    Reach out to your Council on Aging, your local village neighbor group, or to LifePath. We are going strong, and we are here more than ever to support elders, persons with disabilities, and caregivers. Call us with your needs and call us with your offerings.  Here is what we need:

    • Volunteers - To deliver meals, grocery shop, provide transportation, make wellness calls. You can sign up as a back-up volunteer.
    • Personal Protective Equipment - we need hand sanitizer, face masks and gloves
    • Donations - Funding is a balancing act at LifePath. As a private, not for profit organization, the gaps we experience, especially in uncertain times, are particularly real as we look to expand the types of support we provide to the community. Revenue streams are at risk of being disrupted and in order to keep our systems going, we need your support more than ever.

    In this pivotal moment, a revolution is at hand.  In the face of such a threat, our need to rally support for those we serve is paramount. We can make a remarkable impact if we continue to find ways to take action together. Please visit our website at www.lifepathma.org, or call us at 413-773-5555,  x1230; 978-544-2259, x1230; or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Seniorgram: Mounting Concerns During COVID-19

    Barbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive Director

    The incredible pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare many challenges for older adults in our communities. Social distancing, coupled with safer-at-home policies, has significantly segregated elders and diminished their interactions with their family and friends. Restricted access to community supports, social engagement, and routine medical care have only further isolated older adults.

    In light of the loss of many family- and community-based safety nets, we want to take this opportunity to reiterate our role. Adult Protective Services at LifePath is here to serve and wants to partner with you to keep our families and friends healthy and safe. This is a time when caregivers who are experiencing their own COVID-related crises caused by loss of economic stability, increased caregiving demands, or health-related concerns might be prone to escalated abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of their loved one.

    Alarmingly, at this time when older adults are susceptible to more frequent and severe mistreatment or self-neglect, reports to Adult Protective Services are on the decline. With fewer ‘eyes’ to witness behaviors or signs of mistreatment that were typically observed pre-COVID in hospitals, physician’s practices, and at social gatherings, so have waned the opportunities to glean the need for intervention.

    Instances of COVID-related anxiety, depression, and substance use are also on the rise across the age spectrum. For older adults, behavioral health issues create greater risks of falls, compromised immunity, and cognitive impairments. Adult Protective Services can offer coping techniques, supportive services, and resources for enhancing health and safety.

    We are asking our community of professionals, health and home care providers, neighbors, families, and friends to be extra vigilant and take notice.

    We are asking our community of professionals, health and home care providers, neighbors, families, and friends to be extra vigilant and take notice. Systems we have historically depended on to report concerns are disrupted and overloaded. We need new eyes, ears, and voices to come forward so that LifePath can provide interventions to address elders at risk. Please consider situations such as the following:

    • You haven’t heard from a friend for whom you usually pick up medicine or take to appointments.
    • You have observed a disturbance at a home where an elder is present and there is alcohol, drugs, or violence involved, but you aren’t sure how/if it’s impacting the elder.
    • An older adult you are aware of who lives alone, and only had contact with social supports through their Council on Aging or other now-cancelled social activities, responds in a way that makes you feel nervous when you check on them.

    You can make an Adult Protective Services report online, via this web form, or call in a report to (800) 922-2275.

    To discuss a specific situation or learn more about reporting in general, you may call LifePath at 413-773-5555 and ask for a “Protective Services Supervisor.” Video chats are available upon request. LifePath has many programs and services for older adults and people with disabilities. Visit our website to learn more, or call to speak with a Resource Consultant.

  • Seniorgram: The Home Care Workforce

    Barbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorCelebrating the Unsung Heroes of COVID-19

    The ravages of this pandemic are far reaching with all of us touched in some way, either personally or professionally. Front-line health care workers, especially those working in care centers like nursing facilities, emergency departments, and intensive care units, are putting themselves in harm’s way each and every day as they honor their commitment to serve for the sake of their patients’ wellbeing, despite the risk to their own health. A true sacrifice.

    Home care workers don’t have the luxury of caring from a distance.

    In response to their commitment, each day thousands of individuals around the world appear on their terraces and porches or call out their windows to thank and celebrate the health care workers and the first responders. It is an inspiring display of appreciation that they so richly deserve. Another subset of care providers deserving of accolades are the unsung heroes entering people’s homes. They are home care workers, recognized as health care workers by some, who have not received the support and acknowledgement they, too, deserve.

    We’ve seen certain adjustments in the care field as we comply with social distancing - more regular use of video assessments, telehealth services and deliveries of meals, groceries, and other goods and services. Unfortunately this model doesn’t apply to personal care services requiring direct contact. Home care workers don’t have the luxury of caring from a distance.

    Home care workers are welcomed into residences, many times like family members, to provide essential services so that elders and individuals with disabilities may maintain their dignity and independence. The tasks they help consumers with - bathing, dressing, getting out of bed, meal preparation, laundry, and shopping - are critical for anyone to maintain their health and safety. Trust is built and relationships grow with this unique and beautiful type of support.

    Since home care workers are currently limited to providing only essential services, as an alternative, family members are being asked to provide care to limit the number of individuals coming into the home. However, many do not have family to turn to, or family members, themselves, could be potential unwitting transmitters of the virus. Despite precautionary measures, some consumers are turning away their services out of fear of contracting the virus. This could mean going without a meal, a bath, and getting to the toilet. These are serious issues concerning wellbeing and dignity.

    With a limited supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and use of standard infection control practices, workers are doing everything they can to stay well, keep consumers safe, and avoid spreading the virus. Yet workers and care recipients alike are concerned about transmission of COVID-19 from one home to the next. Home care workers including nurses, home health aides, and personal care attendants, are self screening and also calling consumers before they visit to determine if anyone in the household is symptomatic. Courageous workers are designated to work solely with those who are symptomatic, presumptive, or COVID-19 positive as another defensive measure to avoid spread.

    The home care workforce is in dire need of greater support in testing for exposure to COVID-19 to continue to provide their essential services. As tests become available, we’re seeing that care providers from in-patient hospital and facility settings are getting preferential attention. Testing remains limited in our communities and needs to be more accessible. Negative tests provide greater confidence and acceptance of the care an individual will receive at home. The additional benefit of keeping a consumer at home, with services intact and out of the hospital, is to free up capacity where beds are limited and exposure is potentially greater.

    We’re seeing an uptick in inquiries for LifePath services for those who are being discharged from care centers but are still in need of rehabilitation services. Nursing facilities, sadly, are hot spots for the spread of the virus at this time, and home care services are a viable alternative for comparable care.

    As dedicated home care workers navigate the dangers and effects of this virus, they take the risks because they prioritize the independence of others. For that, they deserve your praise and thanks. If a home care worker comes into your home or the home of someone you love, tell them what their dedication means to you and your family members. Or simply cheer or clap for them out your window or from your porch when you see them. Make it known that they are unsung heroes of this community.