Local health promotion network providers and others routinely offer and promote health and wellness programs for older people in Seattle/King County. During the pandemic, our community stepped up to provide even more support to older people and adults with disabilities. Our formal network providers showed remarkable resilience and innovations in their support to older adults and adults with disabilities. Here are examples:
- African Americans Reach and Teach Health Ministry (AARTH) held a virtual health promotion workshop and their dedicated staff completed calls to older African American adults, providing COVID reassurance, support, and referrals. For more information, visit aarth.org.
- Kaiser Permanente piloted Chronic Disease Self-Management Toolkits for Healthier Living (for diabetes, pain, and other conditions), with weekly scripted phone calls conducted by volunteers through June. Some participants engaged and supported each other during the six-week phone calls, while others declined the calls. In July, Kaiser launched their Better Choices, Better Health program online.
- When the Filipino Senior Center congregate meal program at the International Drop-In Center (IDIC) closed due to COVID, they began delivering meals and groceries to participants and are delivering counseling and social services support remotely through telephone support, reassurance, and referrals. For more information, visit idicseniorcenter.org.
- Program to Encourage Active and Rewarding Lives (PEARLS) counseling is now offered telephonically. This evidence-based problem-solving program is for older adults 55 years of age and older experiencing minor depression, including veterans, their spouses, and spouse survivors. They agreed to participate in the Stay Connected two-month pilot (see related article in this issue).
- Kin On helps the Asian community age well at home or thrive in their residences. They offer a culturally sensitive continuum of care. When COVID hit, Kin On shifted to virtually offering a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Living Well workshop through Zoom. Ten of 11 participants completed the first workshop. Kin On anticipates holding more workshops soon. In addition, Kin On provides online dance, exercise, art, and social activities, and agreed to be involved in the “Stay Connected” 2-month pilot.
- Sound Generations worked with Matter of Balance program leaders to develop virtual classes. They issued remote delivery guidance for Enhance®Fitness in September and are supporting Health Promotion Network partners across King County (Kin On was among the first agencies to launch the virtual program). Fifty participants from Ballard and the Central Area remotely attended the 16-week sessions. A West Seattle class is also available.
- Aging and Disability Services contracted with Tilth Alliance to provide Good Food Bags as part of addressing health holistically. When in-person health promotion classes shifted to online, Tilth virtually provided education and collaborated with ADS-funded health promotion agencies to arrange to have Good Food bags picked up at a central location have the food delivered to the client.
- Recently we heard about the good work that the YMCA of Greater Seattle is doing. The Y offers virtual chronic disease prevention programs for older people, including a Diabetes Prevention Program that is covered by Medicare, behavioral health counseling services, virtual “conversation cafes,” social gatherings, and live and recorded fitness and healthy aging classes and events. Learn more at seattleymca.org/blog/see-whats-happening-active-older-adults. Requests for phone-based senior health support can be made at www.seattleymca.org/coronavirus/community-response/webform-senior-health-outreach.
Many thanks to our Aging Network partners AARTH, Kin On, IDIC, Kaiser Permanente, Sound Generations, and Tilth, and all agencies who are supporting our community during COVID. You truly are gifts to our community.
Contributor Mary Pat O’Leary, RN, BSN is a planner at Aging and Disability Services.