The Clark County Commission on Aging will distribute a survey for senior citizens in December in an effort to help connect people with providers, community organizations, and other important people in their lives during the pandemic.
Cass Freedland, a member of the commission, said the commission has held fireside chats and listening tours for the past year with a variety of people throughout the country.
“We’ve been hearing from folks around the country about the effects of COVID on aging populations, both from the idea of social disconnects as well as difficulty in getting basic services and reaching out to people,” Freedland said. “We felt that it would be a great time to survey the aging adults within Clark County to better understand what people are feeling and to connect them with folks that might want to support them.”
During the listening tour, the commission reached out to mostly medical professionals and state governments through online meetings to discuss the wellbeing of senior citizens, financial difficulties, and what professionals and service providers have been hearing.
“So we brought everyone to us online,” Freedland said.
The main organization the commission is collaborating with is the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington. They’re currently trying to contact Meals on Wheels, Freedland said. There are 50 other relevant local organizations they hope to collaborate with. The commission plans to send out emails with the survey and reach more seniors, Freedland said.
The survey is meant to be as accessible as possible.
“Some of the questions the survey will ask is who supports and speaks with folks on a regular basis when they need assistance and how often people are able to be connected by organizations, providers,and important people in their lives,” Freedland said. “Those questions really focus around the sense of isolation seniors have due to the fact that they can’t necessarily come to community centers at this time, and transportation can be a barrier for people to get to meetings, gatherings, or medical appointments.”
Freedland also mentioned a larger question, which asks what types of services or supports could make their lives better, whether it be independent living skills, job retraining or medical care. The commission will also ask people if there’s a connection to another person or organization that’s been meaningful to them. Freedland hopes this will help them find out how seniors can successfully connect to organizations and how other organizations can reach people better.
“We want to see if there are some lessons to be learned and innovative ways in which people are finding these connections with one another that can be shared more broadly with organizations around the area,” Freedland said.
For seniors who don’t have access to the internet, Freedland is mindful of other ways to reach them by phone or through mail. Surveys will also be distributed at local organizations’ offices at a later date.
Some of Freedland’s own neighbors could benefit greatly from the survey once it’s released next month, she said.
“I live in a 55-plus community, so I know there are folks in my community who don’t necessarily have someone who’s checking on them regularly,” Freedland said. “They have been very isolated because many of them can’t really drive anymore, and for whom many times the only way you know someone is home is if the curtains are open or closed at the end of the day. Some of them may be comfortable with that, but if you want to expand your circle, we want people to know that there are ways to make those connections.”
The survey can be found online at clark.wa.gov/communi ty-planning/commission-aging at the end of December. An exact date will be announced at a later time.
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