Isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression are common emotions especially during this last year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic showed us how deeply we long to connect and be in community with others. One demographic of our community that was hit especially hard by COVID-19 were adults in the aging community. Many experienced isolation on a new level, as they had to remain in their homes and often did not have access to see family and friends regularly.
As we slowly start to come out from all the trauma that COVID-19 caused, we need to remind others that they are not alone even though this year forced loneliness onto several. The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD) helps adults who are aging see that they are not alone. Several programs allow adults who are aging to be well cared for and still enjoy the parts of life they love. There are nine local agencies throughout the state of Tennessee that provide resources to residents who are aging. When caring for someone who is aging, Tennessee Area Agencies on Aging and Disability are a great resource for information and a starting point if you are just starting this journey.
Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability has resources specifically on COVID-19 for adults who are aging. For example, the website includes vaccine information and assistance for aging adults to schedule vaccine appointments. Tennessee Care through Conversations is another important program that has been offered during COVID-19, which allows a caregiver or family to sign up an adult who is aging to receive weekly phone calls from a volunteer to make sure their needs are being met and help these adults feel less alone during this time. A caregiver can sign up for weekly calls as well.
TCAD has also created several printed materials for caregivers that provide critical information on topics related to aging. This can be a great place to gather information and share it with others who may be caring for adults who are aging.
While these are just a few of the resources TCAD provides, there are several more programs and resources they have developed that can really help you and your family navigate the journey of aging.
To increase access to resources for aging adults even further, TCAD has provided Tennessee Disability Pathfinder (Pathfinder) a grant. Through this grant, we can better equip adults who are aging with the appropriate resources to meet their needs.
One way in which we’re doing this is by expanding our database to include more resources that focus on aging and disability. We are in the process of adding several more agencies that specifically serve those who are aging, such as medical equipment providers, recreational programs, and memory care providers. We have also added several support groups that local agencies are hosting to our website calendar to help community members find support for adults who are aging.
Another resource we’re offering is a LifeCourse training for local agencies, providers, and community partners. The Charting the Life Course framework was developed by families to help individuals with disabilities and families at any age or stage of life develop a vision for a quality life, think about the information needed and the next steps, identify how to find or develop supports, and discover what it takes to live a life of their choice.
We are also encouraging local agencies to refer clients or patients to our call center or website. When an adult or caregiver calls to receive information, we take time to listen to their unique story so we can find the personalized resources that would be beneficial. We strive to ensure each individual’s needs are identified and met through referrals to appropriate agencies with consideration of the age requirement per referral source. Age requirements for older adults range from ages 50 and older. It can be overwhelming to find the support or agencies your loved one needs, especially if illness or aging-related change occurs unexpectedly. We strive to provide resources for the entire family, not just the one affected by a disability, with hope that through a compassionate listener, you and your family will start to feel less alone in this process. We are so grateful for this opportunity and are honored to partner with the TCAD for this amazing work.
As Helen Keller said, “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.” COVID-19 has caused so much loss and suffering but we are still in this together. No one should ever have to be alone, and we would be happy to be a part of your story.
If we can be a part of your journey and help in any way, please contact us at Tennessee Disability Pathfinder via our helpline at 800.640.4636 or for online information resources visit us at disabilitypathfinder.org.