Mystic Valley Elder Services has created a COVID-19 Resource Guide for community members to use. The Guide is sorted by the 11 towns and cities MVES serves. Please click on the link below to download the Guide, which is updated frequently.
As of Monday, May 10th, the Commonwealth will reopen certain outdoor Phase 4 industries.
- Amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor water parks will be permitted to operate at a 50% capacity after submitting safety plans to the Department of Public Health.
- Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events will be permitted to take place with staggered starts and other appropriate safety measures after submitting safety plans to a local board of health or the DPH.
Additionally, large capacity venues such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks currently open at 12% capacity as part of Phase 4, Step 1 will be permitted to increase capacity to 25%.
Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for moderate and high-risk sports.
Singing will also be permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues, and other businesses.
Grocery stores and retail stores with a pharmacy department should consider dedicated hours of operation for seniors, but will no longer be required to offer senior hours.
Additional Changes Anticipated to be Effective Saturday, May 29th:
Contingent on continued positive trends in the public health and vaccination data, on May 29th, additional sectors will be permitted to re-open, and gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings, and private settings.
The additional sectors that will be permitted to open include:
- Parades, street festivals, and agricultural festivals, after submitting safety plans to the local board of health including measures for maintaining social distance, staffing and operations plans, and hygiene and cleaning protocols.
- Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries, and distilleries, which will be subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90-minute limit, and no dance floors.
Subject to public health and vaccination data, the restaurant guidance will be updated to eliminate the requirement that food be served with alcohol and to increase the maximum table size to 10.
Last week, the Administration relaxed the Face Coverings Order for some outdoor settings and announced further reopening plans for August 1st.
For more information, visit mass.gov/reopening.
As of April 19, all Massachusetts adults are officially eligible for the vaccine: All Massachusetts residents 16 and older became eligible for coronavirus vaccines today — about 1.7 million newly eligible people. And many people have already received emails from the preregistration site to book their appointments. “I immediately got one at a mass vaccination site for this week. The process could not have been easier,” said Kirsten Bakstran, 26, of Natick.
- Health officials are continuing to urge Massachusetts leaders to distribute more vaccines to communities of color.
- If you’re having trouble booking your vaccine appointment in Massachusetts, here are some tips.
Homebound Vaccination Program Central Intake Line
Monday through Friday
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Starting Monday, March 22, Massachusetts will enter the next phase of the vaccine rollout, allowing residents 60 years old and older, as well as residents of all ages who work in specific industries, to be eligible to receive the vaccine. Those include workers in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, food pantries, retail stores, meatpacking, agriculture, vaccine development, medical supply chain, transit, sanitation, public health, courts and other businesses.
Timeline for remaining groups:
- April 5: Residents 55+ and residents with one certain medical condition
- April 19: General public ages 16 years of age and older
The full timeline is available at mass.gov/COVIDVaccinePhases.
February 18, 2021
As of February 18, groups now eligible for vaccines include:
· Residents 65+
· Residents with 2 or more comorbidities
· Residents and staff of low income/affordable senior housing
· State officials recently launched vaxfinder.mass.gov to help find sites with available appointments.
· Eligible residents who cannot use the Internet are also able to call 2-1-1 for appointment assistance.
· Wherever you get your first dose, you’ll also have to get your second dose. So, keep that in mind if you’re driving far, you’ll need to make that drive twice.
· At the appointment, you’ll need ID to show proof of age.
· You must wear a mask and consider a short-sleeve shirt.
· Make sure you get your vaccination card as proof.
· The whole appointment should take 30 to 45 minutes.
· Everyone is eligible to get the vaccine for free. No one will have to pay anything out-of-pocket.
· Companies running the clinics can charge your insurance for a fee, so take your insurance card.
· If you don’t have insurance or are an undocumented immigrant, the clinics will seek reimbursement from the federal government.
February 11, 2021
Mass. to allow younger companions of older residents to get vaccines, too: Massachusetts officials relaxed the state’s vaccine eligibility today to allow people under 75 who accompany residents over 75 to a vaccine appointment to also get a coronavirus vaccine themselves. The “companion appointments” will go into effect starting Thursday, and they’re designed for spouses, adult children, relatives, neighbors, and caregivers who attend vaccine appointments with someone older
February 5, 2021
Resources for Residents 75+ for Scheduling COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments
Residents 75 and older who are unable to use or have difficulty accessing the internet to schedule an appointment online may contact the Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line by calling 2-1-1. Please note, due to the high demand for appointments and limited vaccine supply, it may take weeks to secure an available appointment.
Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line at 2-1-1 hours of operations are Monday to Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is available in English and Spanish and will have translators available to support residents in approximately 100 additional languages. Individuals ages 75 and older will be able to speak to a representative live on the phone to assist them with an appointment through the state’s online system.
If no appointments are available, callers will have the option to be placed on a call back list for the mass vaccination sites. The caller will receive a call back when an appointment becomes available for them at a mass vaccination site, and the list will be called on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is currently only for individuals ages 75 and older who cannot use or have difficulty accessing the internet and therefore are unable to schedule an appointment through the online platforms. The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is only able to support individuals with scheduling an appointment and representatives are not able to answer general questions about COVID-19 or provide individual health care advice.
The quickest and easiest way to schedule a vaccine appointment or check availability is to use the online system at mass.gov/covidvaccine.
Mystic Valley Elder Services Offers Free Transportation Services to COVID-19 Vaccine Sites for Adults 60 years and Older
Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) is offering free transportation services via one of MVES’ transportation providers to adults 60 years and older to COVID-19 vaccine sites near your home. MVES understands that older adults are more susceptible to the pandemic and feels it is important to help all older residents in its 11 communities served get vaccinated. So if you live in Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Revere, Stoneham, Wakefield or Winthrop, give us a call for a ride!
To make it simple, there are only three eligibility guidelines to get approved for your two roundtrips: be 60 years of age or older; don’t have other means to get to a vaccination site; or don’t have access to the vaccines at the building complex where you live. When taking your trips, masks will be required. Make sure to call us in plenty of time so you can plan the most convenient travel time for yourself. You are responsible for making your vaccine appointment. We will provide the transportation.
Visit the State’s website here for the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine and what phase you fall under according to your age and health conditions. You can call us at any time to get your trips approved so when the time comes to get vaccinated, you will be all set to call the transportation provider for your ride to and from a site near your home.
Those 75+ can call to get authorization for their rides before they get a vaccine appointment. For more information about the transportation vaccination program, call MVES at (781) 324-7705. Again, it is encouraged to call us as soon as possible so you can book your rides.
January 12, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is preparing for the safe, equitable, and effective delivery of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. Learn here about the approach and when you can expect to get vaccinated.
Please wear a face mask for the health and safety of yourself and your loved ones!
January 4, 2021
Avoid COVID-19 vaccine scams. Click on the flyer below to learn more.
December 22, 2020
Avoid COVID-19 vaccine scams. Click on the flyer below to learn more.
December 20, 2020
Winter is one of the hardest times of the year for many, and feelings of sadness, loss, or isolation are very common. During winter the days become cold and short, less light for Vitamin D, there are fewer nutrient-rich foods around and it’s harder to get exercise than in the nice months. Couple this with the pandemic and COVID-19 protocols, it’s all a recipe for high anxiety and suffering from a type of depression called Seasonal Affect Disorder, or SAD.
Depression is the most common ailment in those aged 60 and over. People suffering from SAD can set themselves into a depression. Here are some positive steps that may help you feel healthier this winter.
- Acknowledge your feelings and let yourself off the hook. It is okay to not feel happy all the time.
- Reach out. Being alone and lonely are not the same thing but if you are feeling particularly isolated, please seek out your friends and families for support. Just because you cannot be with loved ones physically does not mean you cannot chat with them over the telephone or electronic device.
- Do not abandon healthy habits. Be kind to your body and mind by maintaining your self-care practices. Eat well and get plenty of sleep.
- Create your own traditions. If the loss of old traditions is making you glum, adapt them to your new life circumstances or build something new.
- Seek professional help if you need it. You may find it empowering to face the winter season with your own health and wellbeing in mind. However, despite your best efforts, you may feel persistently sad or anxious, unable to sleep, and dismayed by even routine tasks. If these feelings last for a while, ask for help.
Through its Home Care Program, Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) operates a Mobile Mental Health program for consumers who need professional mental health services but are unable to leave their homes for treatment or counseling. Through its Mobile Mental Health program, clinical caseworkers provide outreach to elders experiencing mental health conditions that impact their functioning and ability to get their needs met. MVES also offers through its Home Care Program a Social Engagement Program that is designed to help improve the health and well-being of isolated older adults in the community by providing meaningful social connection—whether it be through weekly telephone calls, regular visits (when safe to do so), or emails by friendly volunteers. You are not alone and we can help. To find out more about these programs, call us at 781-324-7705.
December 7, 2020
How to say no to family gatherings: It’s the holiday season, and in the middle of a pandemic, that means some very difficult conversations with family members for some people. How exactly do you tell your parents that you won’t be coming home for Christmas? Experts recommend focusing on kindness and disengaging if things become intense.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, is warning that Christmas will have a greater COVID-19 risk than Thanksgiving.
- A recommendation from the World Health Organization: This holiday season, don’t hug.
Source-Boston Globe Coronavirus Now
November 17, 2020
As we grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many are gearing up for a holiday season unlike any in recent memory. Though Thanksgiving will probably look a bit different this year, it’s still an important time for families to make memories together. Please go here to find out how you can have a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.
November 2, 2020
Stay at Home Advisory:
The Baker-Polito Administration announced a series of targeted measures to disrupt the increasing trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Governor Charlie Baker announced these changes at a time where public health data has indicated that cases are rising, with cases up by 278% and hospitalizations up by 145% since Labor Day. These measures include an updated stay at home advisory, early closure of businesses and activities, updated face coverings order, and updated gatherings order.
October 22, 2020
Mystic Valley Elder Services is strongly encouraging individuals to complete the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey made available by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) so that it can better help people through the COVID-19 crisis. This survey will help show how communities, especially historically marginalized communities, have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The results will be vital in understanding how different communities have been affected, whether that be emotionally or financially. People who have not become ill with COVID-19 are still managing stress, uncertainty and isolation, and these communities have been impacted disproportionately by this public health emergency.
The survey takes only a 10 to 15 minutes to complete and will help to ensure our communities have the resources they needs in the months to come. Anyone age 14 and older who lives in Massachusetts is welcome to complete the survey. The survey is also available in multiple languages and can be accessed on a computer, phone or tablet. All answers are anonymous.
Thank you for your support!
September 9, 2020
Wearing a face covering is an important part of keeping you and others healthy right now. But they can also make talking to those around you more difficult. Face coverings can muffle sound. They can also hide important clues about the speaker’s message and emotions. This can make it hard to understand speech, especially those with hearing loss. Now more than ever, it’s important to make an extra effort to communicate. Here are some tips from the National Institute of Health about communicating while wearing a face-covering:
- Speak more clearly and louder than you normally would, without shouting
- Reduce background noise, if possible
- Be aware of the physical distance, which can make hearing more difficult
- If needed, offer to use another method–smartphone, paper and pen or whiteboard–to get your message across
- Bring a friend or family member with you when it is essential that you understand spoken details and vice versa
- Consider wearing a clear face covering for those with hearing problems who may rely on lip-reading
With a little extra effort and problem solving, we can all communicate clearly while staying safe.
August 14, 2020
A new effort was recently launched by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that reminds individuals to wear masks and face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is especially important with the vulnerable, high risk populations Mystic Valley Elder Services serves. You can read more about this effort and hear video testimonials featuring Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito, by visiting here.
August 11, 2020
Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19. Learn more from this video here.
August 5, 2020
Listing of COVID-19 Testing sites by Town can be found here.
July 15, 2020
The Baker-Polito Administration announced the launch of free COVID-19 testing sites in eight communities from July 10 to August 14 to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This “Stop the Spread” initiative is a data-driven effort to reduce the prevalence of COVID-19 in communities that are above the state average in total cases and positive test rate, and have experienced a decline in testing levels since April. The initiative is being launched in Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, and New Bedford. Residents of these communities can take advantage of the availability of these new testing sites, even if they are asymptomatic. While these sites are being launched in these communities, they are open to all residents of the Commonwealth. Read the full press release here
July 11, 2020
With Chelsea being an important community served by Mystic Valley Elder Services and one of the high-risk COVID-19 communities identified by the state, we ask residents to get tested for the virus to help stop the spread even if you have no symptoms.
BIDHC-Chelsea is now offering COVID-19 testing at no cost to you, as part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts “Stop the Spread” program. Free testing will be available at this site from July 10 through August 14.
July 1, 2020
If you recall, last summer ended up being a scorcher! And we have already seen the humidity and temperatures soar once again. During the hot summer months, Mystic Valley Elder Services recommends that it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the older adults in our lives. With more people being house bound this summer due to COVID-19, it is even more imperative we check in on them.
Older adults are much more likely to develop heat-related illnesses than younger people because as we age our bodies don’t adjust as well to drastic changes of temperature. Also, some medications that older adults are taking can affect the way their bodies regulate heat. Here are some tips and resources to help you beat the heat.
- Slow down, and avoid strenuous activity. Don’t try to do too much on a hot day.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect heat and sunlight and help maintain normal body temperature. Protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat.
- Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Stay hydrated.
- Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages, as they can actually dehydrate your body.
- Eat well-balanced, light, regular meals. Avoid high protein foods that increase metabolic heat.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.
- Air-conditioning can provide a lot of relief in the summer. On the most unbearably hot days when it’s too hot for fans to be effective, air-conditioners can even help you stay safe. If you don’t have air conditioning, stay on your lowest floor, out of the sun. Electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help evaporate perspiration, which cools your body.
- The heat affects more than just people. Our pets can be in danger when the temperatures reach highs. Keep your animals safe and healthy in this heat. Do not leave them in a hot car or without water.
In extreme heat and during the pandemic, it’s important that we watch out for each other and stay informed about how to remain healthy and safe when the thermometer climbs. Stay cool!
June 19, 2020
Since the first stay-at-home guidelines were put into place at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, older adults have been targeted by a number of scams, financial exploitation and other forms of elder abuse. In observation of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day this past Monday, June 15, Meals on Wheels America has provided a recap of some helpful pandemic-related scam prevention resources we’ve previously shared so you can educate and protect older adults in your community and their caregivers:
June 10, 2020
Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) has partnered with Action Ambulance to unroll a revolutionary phone communication system to ensure its Meals on Wheels consumers are alerted in a timely fashion to changes, cancellations or delays in their service due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a weather emergency, or any other crisis that may arise.
As soon as MVES becomes aware of a situation that will interfere with the Meals on Wheels delivery, they alert Action Ambulance and in turn Action Ambulance sends out automated calls through a state-of-the-art phone system that enables the agency to reach up to 2,500 consumers in less than one hour. The pre-recorded calls come from a MVES nutrition program phone number, ensuring that consumers know the calls are legitimate and not from telemarketers. The messages feature the voice of a Nutrition Services team member.
“Working with Action Ambulance has streamlined our communication process and made it more instantaneous,” says MVES Nutrition Director Angie Fitzgerald. “It truly is such a great partnership and has helped us send out reassuring messages to our consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Michael Woronka, CEO of Action Ambulance, shares, “Action Ambulance recognizes the critical need Mystic Valley fills by providing a range of support services to the disadvantaged and frail within the community. These services allow for as many people as possible to remain in their homes or group setting while keeping their independence. We are proud to support an organization such as Mystic Valley Elder Services especially during these uncertain times.”
Action Ambulance provides this service to MVES for free.
June 4, 2020
Due to COVID-19, Mystic Valley Elder Services caregiver support groups, where participants meet face to face with a caregiver coordinator, needed to be reassessed with social distancing and no large group gatherings in effect. The result was to take the support groups virtual to keep participants not only connected to their caregiver coordinator but to the other individuals in the group. We now hold our four family support groups either by WebEx or Zoom with about 20-30 individuals joining in each week.
Call our caregiver coordinators today at 781-324-7705 to learn more about our virtual support groups and discover other options available to you and your loved one!
May 26, 2020
The Massachusetts (MA) COVID Team and local boards of health are working together on a contact tracing program to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Contact tracing is an important tool, and the MA COVID Team is part of the Community Tracing Collaborative created by Governor Charlie Baker. Everyone who has tested positive will get a call from their local board of health or the MA COVID Team, making sure they have the support they need, and to find out who they have recently been in contact with. The MA COVID Team or the local board of health will then talk to those contacts, encouraging them to get tested and to stay at home to avoid spreading the virus further.
Together with massive testing and hospital care follow up, contact tracing is absolutely essential to stop the virus and get our communities moving again.
What Happens Next? Answer the Call, Stop the Virus!
- You will receive a phone call from the MA COVID TEAM. The area codes will either be: 833 or 857. It is important to ANSWER THE CALL. Answering the call helps everyone in our communities – someone else may be depending on your important input!
- How can I verify MA COVID Team is calling? MA COVID Team uses the area code 833 or 857 and your phone will say the call is from “MA COVID Team.” Calls will be made daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The MA COVID Team will not ask for social security information or health insurance information.
- During the phone call a Case Investigator will ask you for a list of all the people and places you were within 6 feet of during the 48 hours prior to your symptoms. For those who do not have symptoms, include all contacts 48 hours prior to your diagnosis. The Case Investigator will also ask for the phone numbers of any people you identify so that they can be reached and notified about their exposure.
- While we encourage you to inform your contacts about your illness, the state will not share your information. The MA COVID Team will call your contacts and tell them they have been exposed to COVID-19 so they can get tested but will not release your name. This process is called contact tracing, and it is a very important part of fighting this pandemic and stopping transmission.
- The state will not share any information with immigration officials or ICE.
- If you are staying at home during the isolation period, the Case Investigator will also discuss any needs you may have for this time and may connect you with a Care Resource Coordinator who will help you get the support you needs.
- A Case Investigator and/or your local board of health will check in on you regularly to monitor your symptoms and needs.
- To learn more about contact tracing visit gov/matracingteam
- Check your symptoms online
- For non-emergency questions and help: Call 2-1-1or live chat
May 20, 2020
During these unprecedented times, which have affected almost every aspect of our daily routines, it has become more difficult to know what’s next when you are a caregiver to another adult, such as an aging parent or person with a disability. COVID-19 has complicated the lives of family caregivers, especially those older adults who are most susceptible to the virus. It has created fear, anxiety, uncertainty and isolation in an already stressful situation. Daily routines have been upended as communities cope with this disease.
Even under normal circumstance, caregivers work hard year round to provide assistance to their loved ones. Devoting themselves physically and emotionally, caregivers take on an enormous duty in bringing comfort to a friend or family member. Having care-giving responsibilities for a loved one with a neurological issue like Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia or mild cognitive impairment can be challenging on any given day. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be even more difficult to be a caregiver, especially when your loved one has difficulty understanding some of the necessary challenges required to keep them and your family safe.
According to Being Patient, a news platform on Alzheimer’s disease and brain health research, the caregivers need to decide how to explain any changes such as social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands as well as lack of physical contact to the individual. Words like “pandemic” and “isolation” can result in fear and anxiety. One way to explain this to your loved one is to say there is a “bug going around” and that for all of our safety, we have been asked to stay at home and not have visitors, including other family members.
To help older adults feel involved, purposeful and less lonely during the pandemic, show them how to video chat with others using smartphones, laptops or tablets; use apps on these devices to provide captions for adults with hearing challenges; and encourage friends and family outside of your household to telephone, write notes or send cards to lift your loved one’s spirits.
Caregivers need caring themselves. Seeking support, practicing self-care, and scheduling personal breaks are important strategies to preventing, and reducing caregiver stress. Caregivers need to:
- Ask for and accept help
- Set realistic goals
- Connect with others, even during social distancing
- Avoid common causes of exhaustion–caregiving for too many hours, lack of sleep, poor nutrition.
- Make time for yourself
Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) has a range of accessible and affordable caregiver services through its Family Caregiver Support Program, such as one-on-one assistance, family meetings (offered virtually), community resources, individualized action plans, educational materials, caregiver support groups (offered virtually), peer support, and respite care, with many offered at no or low cost to caregivers. These services are provided to anyone in MVES’ service area caring for an adult age 60 or older or an adult of any age with Alzheimer’s disease or a related memory disorder. Some participants may be eligible for scholarships for companion services or grants for personal emergency response units or safety-net trackers.
Call our caregiver coordinators today at 781-324-7705 to discover options available to you and your loved one!
May 12, 2020
Social isolation, also known as the Loneliness Epidemic, is a prevalent concern for the nearly 290,000 older adults living in the state of Massachusetts. A 2020 report from the US Department of Health and Human Services states that 28 percent of elders live alone in the community. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic changing people’s day-to-day lives and the ways in which they interact with others, our society must realize that isolation among residents ages 65 and up is at an all-time high.
In their many interactions with seniors, Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) care managers and nurses, along with Meals on Wheels drivers have discovered that loneliness and isolation is a prevalent condition. The recent report mentioned above states that loneliness can increase inflammation, heart disease, memory disorders, mental health conditions and higher death rates. Factors that add to isolation include the inevitable losses of spouse, family members, and friends over time. In addition, physical limitations and a lack of transportation reduce seniors’ mobility outside the home.
“Seniors are at a huge risk for social isolation,” says Susan Doherty, RN from MVES. “There can be many reasons for social isolation and not just during this pandemic. Some older adults might not have family, might be estranged from their family, might not be as technologically savvy as younger folks, and might rely on transportation or Adult Day Health in order to socialize, both of which are not running at this time.”
Social isolation can affect everything from mental health, nutrition, and mobility. Doherty points out. “I was with a daughter of a consumer who has been self-quarantining from her father due to COVID-19 exposure. However, because of the self-quarantining and her father’s social isolation, her father’s health has declined and would have declined further without the help of the MVES services that have been put in place such as personal care for the consumer in providing respite for the family,” she says.
MVES Intake Care Manager Annie Dodge recently spoke with a consumer, a Veteran, who receives home-delivered meals from MVES and he expressed to her how wonderful MVES is. According to Dodge, he has stated many times that MVES is something to be proud of and is appreciative that she has checked in with him so many times to keep tabs on his status. The consumer is also very happy with his Meals on Wheels driver and his commitment to bringing meals as well as his smiling face adding to his day.
“He expressed that the check-ins have made him feel important and not alone. He said he feels like he is in jail because there are two people in his building who have tested positive for COVID-19 and he does not want to leave his apartment. But, the daily delivery and a friendly voice on the phone have made a positive impact,” says Dodge.
While there are a number of resources for family caregivers impacted by the pandemic, the various crises being faced by family caregivers and their loved ones dramatically varies. This pandemic has put much more stress on caregivers who now need to shift gears to provide services and take care of loved ones in different ways, such as telephone calls, “driveway visits”, visits where the individuals are divided by a window, or using telehealth instead of home visits.
“The impact social distancing has had on the ways people memorialize their loved ones and friends is tough. Gatherings are limited or nonexistent and families coping with a loss might be feeling an added layer of grief at not being able to celebrate the life of their loved one as they could have in a pre-pandemic world,” explains MVES Caregiver Support Coordinator Kathy Learned.
MVES nurse Linda Kalogeris’, RN, mother was also a consumer living in Kalogeris’ home before going to Prospect House Assisted Living & Memory Care in Revere for respite care following a fall and broken bone.
“With the onset of the pandemic, my mother has been on lockdown in her room for several weeks and unable to receive visiting nurse services or go to routine doctors’ appointments,” explains Kalogeris. “I am worried about my mother’s growing depression and isolation. I often stand outside my mother’s facility to wave through the window.”
“It has become very evident about the high occurrence of loneliness that many older adults experience in their daily lives, and has been magnified with COVID-19’s social and physical distancing,” says Patricia Hansen, RN, from MVES. “The majority of seniors and those living with disabilities are estranged from their family and friends, or have no family or friends to speak to or interact with. Most of the time their only connection to someone who cares about them is through MVES. A caring voice on the other end of the phone or a smile and wave from a Meals on Wheels driver are critical.”
To address this issue, MVES will launch a new service in early summer for its consumers called the Social Engagement Program, which will provide focused intervention on the poor health and wellness outcomes linked to loneliness and social isolation, a problem that is impacting older adults in epidemic proportions.
“After hearing from volunteers and staff in the field, our community partners, and from consumers themselves, we discovered that older adults are feeling increasingly disconnected and in need of more social support. We decided to take steps to address this problem,” says Lauren Reid, Director of Community Programs.
The Social Engagement Program will connect to MVES consumers through supports that could include the following: the Friendly Visitor Program, in which the consumer receives home visits that focus on in-person socialization and companionship (this will only be done safely and carefully in this time of the pandemic); the Telephone Reassurance Program where a volunteer calls the isolated individual and provides a social contact and friendly conversation; and/or an Email Correspondence for online engagement with others via technology.
“This social engagement intervention will supplement the consumer’ home care services resulting in a comprehensive care plan that supports an improved quality of life and a safe independence,” explains Reid. Trained and carefully screened volunteers will provide the visits, calls and emails.
MVES is playing an important role in the community to combat the effects of social isolation in those valued clients we serve. From increased well-being calls to ongoing home delivered meals to providing resources for family caregivers now worrying about their elderly loved ones from afar, MVES prides itself on remaining a consistent presence in the lives of those we are privileged to serve.
May 6, 2020
Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) recently received a grant of $20,000 from the Everett Community Care Fund in partnership with United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley to help support Everett residents in need during these unsettling times.
Funding from the Everett Community Care Fund will focus on the basic needs of older adults and adults living with disabilities and mobilize resources for emergency assistance to residents of Everett who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on those who are most economically vulnerable. The funding will help MVES prevent financial crises and displacement of older adults and adults living with disabilities living in Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Revere, Stoneham, Wakefield or Winthrop.
If you are a resident of MVES’ 11 communities and need assistance due to COVID-19, please contact Mystic Valley Elder Services at (781) 324-7705 or email [email protected]
May 5, 2020
Mystic Valley Elder Services has received donations and grants from many organizations and individuals to help support consumers and community members in need during these unsettling times. These donations and grants will focus on the basic needs of older adults and adults living with disabilities and mobilize resources for emergency assistance to residents of our 11 communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resources will be used for urgently needed assistance such as groceries, grocery shopping, limited rental and utility assistance, other support assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also have a limited supply of cloth masks for those who don’t have any other means to locate one. We will have them available for as long as our supply lasts.
If you are a resident of Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Revere, Stoneham, Wakefield or Winthrop, and need assistance due to COVID-19, whether it be help with grocery shopping or obtaining a cloth mask, please contact Mystic Valley Elder Services at (781) 324-7705 or email [email protected].
The Chinese Culture Connection invited political, spiritual, and organizational members of the greater Malden community, including Mystic Valley Elder Services, to share their thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 28, 2020
The fear associated with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus is very stressful for many older adults, particularly those who are especially vulnerable to the virus who may have weaker immune systems. High-risk groups include low-income older adults, those living alone, and those suffering from other health conditions such as cognitive decline, dementia, or other underlying physical and mental health conditions.
During this unprecedented public health crisis, many older adults and their families across our communities are feeling the stress of the health threat: concerns about becoming ill, uncertainty about the future, possible financial strain, not being able to see their loved ones, and dramatic changes in daily routines. Individuals respond to stress in different ways and some, especially those with mental health conditions, are prone to negative impact on their mood, anxiety, sleep and overall well-being. This is a critically important time for everyone to take extra care to protect their mental health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends these suggestions for older adults and their caregivers to help with their stress levels and mental health well-being:
- Older adults, especially in isolation and those with cognitive decline/dementia, may become more anxious, angry, stressed, agitated and withdrawn during the outbreak or while in quarantine. Provide practical and emotional support, such as telephone calls, emails, video conferencing and hand written notes, through informal networks (families and caregivers) and health professionals.
- Share simple facts about what is going on and give clear information about how to reduce risk of infection in words older people with/without cognitive impairment can understand. Repeat the information whenever necessary. Instructions need to be communicated in a clear, concise, respectful and patient way. It may also be helpful for information to be displayed in writing or pictures. Engage family members and other support networks in providing information and helping people to practice prevention measures (e.g. handwashing).
- Make or purchase a face covering (masks) and purchase some disposable gloves.
- If you have an underlying health condition, make sure to have access to any medications that you are currently using. Activate your social contacts to provide you with assistance, if needed.
- Be prepared and know in advance where and how to get practical help if needed, like calling a taxi, having food delivered and requesting medical care. Make sure you have up to two weeks of all your regular medicines that you may require.
- Learn simple daily physical exercises to perform at home, in quarantine or isolation so you can maintain mobility and reduce boredom.
- Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible or help create new ones in a new environment, including regular exercising, cleaning, daily chores, singing, painting or other activities. Keep in regular contact with loved ones (e.g. via telephone, e-mail, social media or video conference)
- During these times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food. Keep things in perspective.
- A near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Seek information updates and practical guidance at specific times during the day from health professionals and reputable websites (WHO, CDC) and avoid listening to or following rumors that make you feel uncomfortable.
April 21, 2020
Food Safety During Social Distancing
With the COVID-19 Pandemic still ever present in our daily lives, preventing foodborne illness is more important than ever to avoid unnecessary visits to healthcare providers as well as to stay healthy.
According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on some surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety — clean, separate, cook, and chill outlined below to prevent foodborne illness.
- Clean: Wash hands, utensils and surfaces often. Germs can spread and survive in many places.
- Separate: Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods, so keep them separate.
- Cook: Food is safely cooked only when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick.
- Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest between 40°F and 140°F.
Shelf life of food
Many foods purchased at the grocery store include a date, which indicates when it should be used or sold by. Except for infant formula, dates are not an indicator of the product’s safety and are not required by Federal law. Because these dates refer to the product’s quality, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be thrown out.
For products that don’t require refrigeration until after opening, such as mustard, salad dressing and ketchup, it’s often safe to eat these beyond the date on their label as long as they have been stored properly.
Eating for Good Health
Social distancing has changed daily routines, including eating, for many of us. With some planning and creativity, it is still possible to eat healthfully to be able to maintain good health. This is especially important for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Shop your refrigerator first: Plan Meals Based on the Foods You Already Have
- Looking for healthful ways to reduce your trips to the store? Get creative with what you have on hand. Check the refrigerator, freezer and pantry for foods that need to be used up. Leftover meats and veggies can be added to soups, salads or sandwiches.
- You can save leftovers for a meal later in the week or frozen. Keep in mind that leftovers should be used within three to four days and reheated to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you have to go inside a store, you can reduce the amount of time you spend there by making a list according to the section of the store where these items are located.
- Prepare for the unexpected—supermarkets are running low on many items. Be ready with a back-up plan if an ingredient you need is unavailable.
- Many stores offer disinfectant wipes to clean your hands and wipe down the cart and basket handles before shopping, or you can use your own wipes and hand sanitizer.
- You can also try online grocery ordering for delivery or pick-up if available. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after putting away your food.
- Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables provide similar nutrients as fresh. Go for low sodium canned veggies and fruits canned in juice or water if available.
- If the store has run out of frozen items like vegetables, fruits, chicken, or fish, you can purchase fresh versions and freeze them. Breads and muffins, whether packaged or homemade, also freeze well for several months.
- Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, carrots, and Brussels sprouts freeze well as do fruits like bananas, all berries, cantaloupe, and pineapple. Chop into bite-size pieces and place in a freezer bag.
Healthy Take-out and Delivery
When getting take-out or delivery you can still keep in mind good nutrition, especially if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes.
Tips for Ordering Takeout or Delivery
- If you get takeout, take the food home right away and eat it while it is hot.
- If getting delivery, request “contactless”, the delivery person will notify you when the meal is left at the doorstep.
- Transfer the meal from its packaging onto a plate, discard the packaging, and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Store leftovers safely—wrap tightly and refrigerate any dishes with meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products. Do not let leftovers sit at room temperature for longer than two hours.
- Reheat leftovers to at least 165℉ .
- The microwave is an easy way for reheating leftovers. If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, rotate food one-half turn midway through the heating time and give it a stir to eliminate cold spots where bacteria can survive.
- Be sure to label the date of purchase on your leftovers and remember to discard within three to five days.
April 14, 2020
COVID-19 is changing the way people work, live and interact with one another. The pandemic is pushing companies to rapidly operate in new ways, and Mystic Valley Elder Services is not immune to it. As we adjust to this new normal, we continuously look at ways of doing things differently to be more efficient. There are things businesses can do to be proactive and look at what they can realistically do to help, adapt to the situation and find a way to keep moving on.
Our consumers have become acquainted with care managers making house calls to check in on them, and Meals on Wheels drivers stopping in to share a brief conversation and friendly smile. However, under the new guidance of “Stay Home, Stay Safe” there is very minimal in home, face-to-face interaction happening at this time.
We continue to be in regular communications with our consumers. Our care and program managers are calling them on a regular basis to assess their well-being and need for services. And to improve upon that process, MVES began to deploy cell phones last week to Client Services staff so they will be able to contact consumers and others with a number that shows up as a MVES caller. With many telephone scams happening during this time, especially those targeting older adults, many consumers do not answer their phones. Calling from a MVES cell phone should help us connect more effectively with consumers who will recognize that MVES is calling and not some unknown number or scammer. Staff have set up tables in the back parking lot so that Client Services staff can drive up and receive a phone that is placed in the trunk of their car without having to get out and interact with others. The distribution of cells phones will continue into this week. Approximately 150 phones will be given out.
April 8, 2020
Help Support Mystic Valley Elder Services’ COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Response Fund
With the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) continues to create contingency plans for service continuity and has established a COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Response Fund so our consumers will remain receiving critical assistance such as food, personal care and other essential items on either a short term or one time basis. Through this fund, you can help provide essential support so that MVES will have the immediate and substantial resources we need to adjust and continue to operate during these incredibly difficult times for so many of your neighbors.
Your generosity will provide the funds MVES needs today to cover the costs of these urgently needed, unbudgeted resources:
- Surge in demand for home-delivered meals and added costs of preparation and delivery.
- Personal Protective Equipment including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers: MVES has purchased over $5,000 worth of masks, gloves and hand sanitizers to protect Meals on Wheels delivery workers and other front line staff who need to visit vulnerable older adults during this pandemic crisis.
- More than 100 new cell phones, $1,200 per month for nurses and care managers working remotely who need to conduct phone risk assessment screenings and do daily safety checks on older adults. By using MVES phones rather than personal cell phones, communication will be improved and older adults and their caregivers will be more likely to answer calls.
- $25 grocery gift cards and pharmacy gift cards to give to home care workers to provide grocery shopping and/or pick up medications at pharmacies for 500 older adults. Grocery stores and pharmacies for the most part will not accept credit card pre-payments from Mystic Valley Elder Services and so low income older adults and their home health aides need a way to be able to directly pay for their essential needs at grocery stores and pharmacies.
Please know that your donation to Mystic Valley Elder Services as a private, nonprofit 501c3 organization is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. On March 27, President Trump signed into law the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. One of the features of this new law is the Federal Charitable Giving Incentive which includes a new above-the-line deduction (universal or non-itemizer deduction that applies to all taxpayers) for total charitable contributions up to $300. The incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed by donors on tax forms next year.
Please support the Mystic Valley Elder Services COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Response Fund. You and your gernerosity will help your neighbors continue to receive the supports they need to live with dignity and independence. You can donate online or by sending a check to the attention of Mystic Valley Elder Services, 300 Commercial St, #19, Malden, MA 02148.
April 1, 2020
The past few weeks have been unlike any we have ever seen. The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has forced Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) to take unprecedented measures to remain a viable resource to older adults, adults living with disabilities, and their caregivers. We continue to adapt with the evolving situation affecting our communities. MVES is taking proactive measures to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, and the 20,000 individuals served on an annual basis.
As a mission-based community resource, MVES is committed to meeting consumers’ needs during this uncertain time. However, we remain prudent in following the recommendations of national, state and local authorities so that our services are delivered in the safest manner possible. Our main office at 300 Commercial Street is closed to visitors with very limited staff working onsite while most staff are working remotely practicing social distancing.
Despite challenges associated with adapting to a mostly-virtual setup, our dedicated professional team has stepped up in a big way and are working hard to keep our programs operational. All of us at MVES are trying to remain as nimble as possible during these uncertain times.
Meals on Wheels will continue to operate, with MVES staff delivering daily meals. Earlier this week, 10,000 frozen meal emergency packets were delivered by 130 volunteers consisting of staff and community members. Care managers, protective services, and clinical counselors continue to connect with consumers by telephone to assess risk, provide care advice, reassurance and support and only visiting when absolutely necessary.
MVES appreciates our consumers, staff, volunteers, and community supporters’ flexibility and cooperation during this unprecedented time. We will provide additional updates as they become available.
March 25, 2020
Scams related to the Coronavirus COVID-19 are rapidly increasing as the public health emergency develops. Scammers are targeting older adults and those with serious long-term health conditions who appear to have a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Please read the Consumer Alert flyer below:
March 23, 2020
Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) knows that the evolving and ever changing news about Coronavirus COVID-19 is causing growing concerns for many. We want you to know that MVES is open for business and is working to be sure that our consumers continue to receive needed services, and to protect not only their health but also the health of our MVES staff and volunteers as well as other agency workers who provide services to our consumers. If our staff or consumers are not feeling well, there may be a temporary interruption or reduction in services. Be assured, MVES will always let consumers know if services will be interrupted, reduced or cannot be delivered. The wellbeing of our staff and consumers is our #1 goal.
As of March 23, 2020, MVES is adhering to the following:
- We have adapted some program protocols to keep consumers, volunteers and staff safe such as instituting a “no visitor” policy at the office.
- We are in regular communications with our consumers. Our care managers are calling them on a regular basis to assess their well-being and need for services.
- Under Governor Baker’s recommendations to protect the staff and public’s health and safety and his advisory to stay at home, we are not conducting home visits but are assessing our consumers’ needs through telephonic means.
- We continue to accept calls and referrals via our online referral form and/or by calling our Information and Referral Dept. at 781-324-7705, x100.
- We continue to serve home delivered meals. We are delivering extra shelf-stable and frozen meals to our consumers and are exploring options in the event that there may be a shortage of meal delivery personnel or if a consumer with active COVID 19 is in need of nutrition supports.
MVES is in constant contact with the MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Department of Public Health, and we are following their guidance as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended best practices. We are also in close communication with our extensive network of in-home service provider agencies and our community partners to deliver services in a safe and effective manner.
Here are a few things you can do to help keep yourself from getting sick:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Practice social distancing putting 6 feet between yourself and other people.
- Avoid crowds of 10 or more and do not travel unless you must.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick with a cold or flu symptoms.
- If you feel sick or have a cough or fever, call your doctor.
The Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak is a rapidly changing situation from a public health perspective and we are committed to keeping you informed. MVES is working to ensure the wellbeing of all those who depend on us.
March 13, 2020
Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) is open for business and continuing to provide services to people in need. We are in close contact with the MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Department of Public Health, and we are following their guidance as well as the CDC recommended best practices. We are also in close communication with our extensive network of in-home service provider agencies and our community partners to deliver services in a safe and effective manner.
At this time, in keeping with the most up-to-date information that we have and the program regulations that guide our work, MVES is continuing to provide services, while taking all possible precautions to safeguard wellness. We understand that this is a fluid situation and information may change quickly so we are continuing to monitor what is happening and make contingency plans for service continuity. We are asking our staff and volunteers and urge all members of our community to stay home when sick, to limit close interpersonal contact, and to practice frequent handwashing. Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and the members of the communities we serve. Updates will be posted here as circumstances change. Thank you!
MVES is sharing a video link regarding COVID-19 and how older adults should deal with the virus. Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers advice on what elders can do in response to the outbreak. You can see it here.