ALBANY — The emergence of COVID-19 has caused an upheaval across New York and the world, which has placed an even greater strain on New York’s more than 4 million family caregivers.
November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize and say “thank you” to the millions of people in New York State and across the country who provide care and support to their loved ones every day so they can remain safe and healthy in their homes.
“Caregivers are the backbone of our health and long-term care systems,” Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging, said.
“They provide, with little fanfare, essential tasks to help their loved ones remain safe and healthy at home.
“Caring for someone else brings joy but can also be stressful and exhausting, particularly during this unprecedented time. As older adults remain at greater risk for COVID-19, it has put even more pressure on caregivers, and they need access to resources that help them support their loved ones as well as allow them to focus on their own health and well being.”
Caregivers help their loved ones remain healthy and independent by providing vital assistance with a wide range of needs, including personal care and financial, medical, social, and emotional supports.
The responsibility of serving and supporting another person brings fulfillment but can also be challenging, and the strength and compassion exhibited by caregivers is a labor of love. Many caregivers do not self-identify as such and therefore do not access the benefits or services they may need or be eligible for.
Caregivers acknowledge their need for services like respite care and legal help, but often do not know that such services are available or how to obtain them.
New York State has many resources to support the critical role caregivers play in their families and communities.
NY Connects (800-342-9871) is the statewide system for anyone who needs information on long-term services and supports, including supports for caregivers.
New York also recently received the 2020 Pacesetter Prize from The SCAN Foundation in recognition of its leadership in Support for Family Caregivers.
In addition, during the pandemic, NYSOFA, in partnership with its 59 area agencies on aging and almost 1,200 community-based partners have continued to deliver essential core services for older New Yorkers and caregivers.
Because New Yorkers have taken seriously the guidance to stay at home and practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, the network of aging services professionals has been providing many more enhanced services such as home delivered meals, groceries and supply deliveries; medication deliveries; transportation to critical services such as dialysis, cancer treatments, etc., combating social isolation, identifying and addressing elder abuse and scams, and much more.
NYSOFA and the aging services network serve as sources of trusted information, continuously providing facts and ongoing updates about the deadliness of the virus, as well as federal and state issued guidance and protocols to ensure the health and safety of all New Yorkers, particularly high-risk individuals, including older adults and those with underlying health conditions.
Having access to timely, accurate information about the risks and impact of COVID-19 is critical for all New Yorkers to protect themselves and others.
In September, NYSOFA in partnership with BellAge, Inc., and the Association on Aging in New York announced the launch of CV19 CheckUp in New York State, a free, anonymous, personalized online tool that evaluates an individual’s risks associated with COVID-19 based on their life situation and individual behavior and provides recommendations and resources to reduce those risks.
The tool was developed by BellAge to help people be safer, healthier, and ensure their individual needs are met during the pandemic. CV19 CheckUp fills a critical need for a comprehensive resource that educates, advises, and empowers individuals of all ages to help protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19: http://newyork.cv19checkup.org.
Additional COVID-19 Resources for Older Adults and Caregivers:
Stay connected—download the NYSOFA mobile app for iOS or Android; visit the NYSOFA Facebook page; follow @NYSAGING on Twitter and NYSAging on Instagram; or visit aging.ny.gov.