Older adults face extra challenges associated with the effects of the pandemic, especially as one attempts to “age in place” safely within their own home and community.
By taking proper precautions to reduce risk of infection from others, there has been a higher incidence of social isolation, reduced ability to access essential on-site community services and even perform what would be otherwise easily completed errands to stores and other public places. Transportation is more difficult. Those who rely on restaurants for meals may not be getting enough food. Low- and moderate-income individuals may have extra challenges in accessing their usual support services. Obtaining necessary caregiver supports in the home may be more restricted.
The village of Oak Park Aging in Place Commission continues to support policies and efforts to make it easier for people to age in their homes, particularly during the pandemic. Our role as a commission is to advise the village board in facilitating full participation in community activities by its senior residents and bringing persons over the age of 55 into the mainstream of Oak Park life by recognizing policies that support aging in place. We do this in a variety of ways, a recent example being last year’s successful endorsement and active engagement in obtaining a Dementia Friendly designation for the village of Oak Park. Information about our proposed 2021 work plan and virtual meeting times can be found on the village of Oak Park website: www.oak-park.us/aginginplace.
We recognize that in many ways, Oak Park has many assets and is resource rich. Community agencies and organizations that support older community adults have worked hard at their outreach to provide support during the pandemic. Yet we also recognize that there are still many people who are vulnerable and may not be aware of the services and supports that exist. It could be that we as a community need to think about how we can all better support our friends and neighbors who may need extra help with meals, shopping, snow shoveling, a ride to the doctor, or just someone to talk with. Let’s remember the challenges for people without access to the internet in making COVID-19 vaccination appointments or even accessing telehealth visits.
As a commission, we welcome your input, comments and suggestions and invite you to attend the next virtual meeting. You can check the website for updates on meeting times or contact the Village Clerk: email@example.com or 708-358-5672.
In these challenging times, we need to think about how we all can ensure that our older adult neighbors get the help and support they need, and we as a commission are here to listen and act on these issues.
Lance Taylor is chair of the village of Oak Park Aging in Place Commission.