Complicating COVID stress: Technology gaps for seniors

Complicating COVID stress: Technology gaps for seniors

Early on, when COVID vaccine appointments first became available for seniors age 75-plus, the online application asked the user to select their insurance. Most seniors have Medicare and selected that option. Next, they were instructed to upload a copy of their Medicare card.

Calls were coming in to Senior Concerns: “I am trying to make an appointment for a vaccine. Can you tell me what upload means?”

Seniors who used to schedule an in-person appointment to receive no-cost assistance in preparing their tax returns at Cal State Northridge are now being asked to make an appointment on the website, and on the day of their appointment they will receive an email with a private, encrypted link to HIPAA Zoom.

More calls came in: “What is an encrypted HIPPA Zoom?”

Free tax help is available for seniors

Free tax help is available for seniors

Even in a pandemic, the tax season goes on.

Free tax preparation help for seniors goes on, too, albeit with some changes.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax help to people who make $57,000 or less, people with disabilities and taxpayers who speak limited English and need assistance in preparing their tax returns. The program is not specific to seniors; if you qualify in any of the categories above, you may use the program.

In addition to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program offers free tax help, particularly for those who are 60 and older. The program specializes in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.

Rules for the greater good during COVID times

Rules for the greater good during COVID times

The novel “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng keeps swirling in my mind these days because one of its basic themes is the conflict between rule followers and rule breakers that we see playing out in America today.

The story features two main characters, both women.

Elena has followed the rules her entire life and, as a result, has built a comfortable life for herself. She wonders what would have happened had she not been such a rule follower. But she believes “rules exist for a reason; if you followed them you would succeed. If you didn’t, you might burn the world to the ground.”

Mia, on the other hand, does not conform to social norms and lives a life of continuous relocation so that she can escape the consequences of her past actions. Mia never regrets breaking the rules. She sees it as necessary to stay true to her heart.

Whether one follows rules or breaks them is based on

Checking in with ourselves is more important than ever

Checking in with ourselves is more important than ever

I’m not sure anyone could have predicted what the beginning of 2021 would look like, particularly as we ushered out 2020 believing it was one of the most challenging years on record.

And now, as our new year begins, we are seeing an unprecedented surge in COVID deaths, stoking our fears of an elderly loved one contracting the virus. We see that our local hospital’s ICU beds are full and wonder what will happen to us if we become ill.

We see record business closures resulting in the unemployment of friends and family. We see the storming and vandalizing of our Capitol, making us feel unsafe and stirring up emotions of shock and disbelief.

And we’ve missed, for months on end, being able to hold, hug and be with those we love.

If we look back at the past 10 months, it’s no surprise many of us are experiencing chronic stress.

COVID creates tough ethical calls for care

COVID creates tough ethical calls for care

There’s no debating that seniors are most at risk during this pandemic. While COVID-19 deaths have spanned all age groups, the hardest hit has been the 65-and-older population, which accounts for over 80% of the U.S. death toll from the disease.

A friend offered her opinion that this pandemic may just be nature’s way of getting rid of the weak, that seniors had lived a full life and this was their time to go. In other words, she felt that older adults are collateral damage in this global health crisis.

I found this to be shocking. She immediately walked back her words, but it does show that this opinion is out there.

Let’s look at what these older adults may have endured in the course of their lives.

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