Right now, Eagle County’s senior program says people’s needs are being met | VailDaily.com

Right now, Eagle County’s senior program says people’s needs are being met

Along with sandwiches and milk, local seniors can get fresh produce through the Eagle County Schools grab and go lunch program.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com
How to help: Eagle County Seniors The Eagle County Healthy Aging Program is collecting information from people who are interested in assisting older residents during the coronavirus outbreak. To volunteer send an email to healthyaging@eaglecounty.us and include your name, phone number and email address.

EAGLE — As they hunker down in COVID-19 isolation, many Eagle County residents want to make sure their older neighbors are doing OK.

“As the weeks go on, needs will rise,” said Carly Rietmann, Eagle County Healthy Aging coordinator. “We are still pretty early in this situation so right now people are pretty set for what they need.

“Actually, right now there are more offers to help than there is need,” she said.

But the county is collecting information so it can determine where volunteers live and where they can be deployed if the need arises.

“As we starting hearing about needs, we will deploy people accordingly,” Rietmann said.

Food and contact

As of Tuesday, the Eagle County Schools grab-and-go lunch program has been expanded to include county residents ages 60 and older.

“The fact that the school district has a five-days-a-week program, with fresh produce available, is really helpful,” Rietmann said.

The Healthy Aging program serves more than 10,000 meals to seniors and disabled adults each year in Eagle County at lunch sites in Eagle, Minturn and El Jebel. Those lunch gatherings have been canceled during the coronavirus outbreak, but Rietmann noted that the program is still operating a meal pick-up and delivery for seniors.

But in addition to the challenge of feeding seniors’ bodies, Rietmann noted there is the issue of feeding their souls. Under normal circumstances, Healthy Aging program works hard to make sure seniors are not socially isolated. Now, as the most at-risk COVID-19 population, it’s a priority to keep seniors’ social contact to a minimum.

“It’s a hard balancing act,” Rietmann said. “How can we not completely socially isolate people, which is something we are always working on, while still keeping them safe?”

“We are trying to keep seniors away from groups of people, but they would still love some contact, even if it is brief and from a distance,” Rietmann said.

The Healthy Aging program also has live-streamed meditation sessions and hosted Google hangouts exercise sessions.

Rietmann said one of the biggest challenges, both locally and nationally, is grocery shopping. Many seniors still want to visit the store personally. However, in the weeks ahead that may not be possible.

“I am telling people ‘Don’t hesitate to ask for help,'” Rietmann said. “We really do have community people who are available and wanting to help.”

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