AARP Florida posts information helpful to seniors, caregivers

The coronavirus outbreak is hitting Florida, and AARP Florida is stepping up to help.

While there’s much we don’t know, it’s clear that people over age 50 are at risk for serious illness. AARP has assembled a wealth of information, tools, and resources to equip you to deal with the virus known as COVID-19.

If you’re one of Florida’s 2.9 million family caregivers, you may be facing extra challenges these days. To help equip you, AARP has pulled together some tips and resources, such as:Across Florida, about 170,000 older people live in nearly 700 skilled nursing facilities, commonly known as nursing homes, and more than 3,000 assisted living facilities.
On March 15, Florida officials called for a temporary halt to visits to elder-care facilities as part of an effort to protect elders.
However, you should know that state officials have ruled you can still come to an elder-care facility if you’ve been helping your loved one self-administer medications, or if you helped on a daily basis with bathing, eating or other basic activities of living before the state ban on visits started March 15. You should call the facility for information about arranging to provide this help.

Many Florida elder-care facilities say they’re already offering ways to connect with loved ones online, through Skype, FaceTime or videoconferencing technologies, so you can stay in touch with your loved one. Elder-care facilities also are working to provide designated family representatives with regular updates on residents’ conditions.

We know how important these steps are for families and support these efforts by Florida facility administrators. AARP has asked federal officials to make virtual visit practices mandatory under federal regulation.

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s health in an elder-care facility, reach out to the facility and ask what can be done.
Some Floridians may not be aware that there is a team of state volunteers who work to protect residents of many elder-care facilities. This program is called the Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. The program’s trained volunteers serve as advocates for residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and elder care group homes. Learn more about the Ombudsman program or call toll-free at 1-888-831-0404. These services are free.

Jeff Johnson is State Director of AARP Florida. Keep up to date on what AARP is doing in Tampa Bay.

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