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Our immune systems become weaker with age, making it harder for older adults to fight off diseases and infection. Older adults are also more likely to have underlying health conditions that hinder the body’s ability to cope with and recover from illness. Given these risks, it is important for older adults and their caregivers follow the mitigation guidelines put out by the CDC and the State of Florida. These guidelines include:
- Procuring adequate supplies of food and prescription medications;
- Washing hands often;
- Avoiding crowds and close contact with others—this means keeping six feet or about two arms lengths between yourself and others;
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces;
- Avoiding all cruise travel; and
- Calling a healthcare professional if you feel sick or have concerns.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities must take particular care to safeguard the health of their residents. The CDC and the State of Florida have put out guidelines for reducing COVID-19 exposure in these environments:
- Conduct daily temperature and symptom screenings of residents and staff;
- Support training of staff regarding strong infection control practices;
- Restrict visitors to long-term care facilities;
- Cancel group activities and community events;
- Monitor local information about COVID-19;
- Review and update emergency operations plans;
- Review personal protective measures; and
- Ensure hygiene supplies are readily available.
You can find more information from the Florida Department of Health here. Older adults should also develop care plans that summarize their general health conditions, current treatment or medication regimens, and contact information for their healthcare providers and emergency contacts.
Testing for Older Adults
The City of Miami Department of Fire-Rescue is offering free, in-home COVID-19 testing for homebound local seniors, age 65 and above, who are experiencing symptoms and do not have access to transportation. You can call 305-960-5050 for assistance
The City of Miami at Charles Hadley Park located at 1350 NW 50th St, Miami FL 33142 testing seniors age 65 and over who reside in the City of Miami and are not experiencing any symptoms associated with the coronavirus.
The City of Miami Beach residents over the age of 65 who are experiencing symptoms but are homebound may call to request a COVID-19 test to be performed at their home. You must first make an appointment by calling: 305-604-2489 from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Testing is provided by MedRite with the help of the Miami Beach Fire Department.
The City of Coral Gables offers free COVID-19 testing senior resident (age 65+) with symptoms or with underlying medical conditions, and under the age of 65 with symptoms or with underlying medical conditions. There are a limited number of tests available per day. Appointments will be given based on priority. Residents will be contacted with their appointment date, time and location. Coral Gables residents must complete the online testing application at www.coralgables.com/covidtesting. If the resident needs help filling out the application, they may call the City of Coral Gables Senior Resident & Testing Hotline at 305-460-5401.
The Village of Key Biscayne who are ages 65 and older and experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 can call: 305-365-8910 for testing information.
Hard Rock Stadium (Drive Thru), located at the east parking Lot - 347 Don Shula Drive, Miami Gardens, FL 33056, is testing individuals of any age with or without symptoms
You can refer to Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs for updates on the health and safety of older adults. Note that some locations, such as congregate meal sites, senior centers, and adult day care centers, may be temporarily closed. You should contact the location you frequent to confirm that they are still offering services at their site or to see if alternative services are available. You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-963-5337.
Miami-Dade County has multiple programs to support senior access to nutrition. You can find information about Meals on Wheels (for homebound seniors) here. In addition, many grocery stores are offering senior-only shopping hours to encourage social distancing and help older adults shop safely. Stores offering senior shopping hours include:
- Publix: 7:00 AM-8:00 AM, Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- Trader Joe’s: first hour (8:00 AM-9:00 AM or 9:00 AM-10:00 AM), daily
- Walgreens: 8:00 AM-9:00 AM, Tuesdays
- The Fresh Market: 8:00 AM-9:00 AM, weekdays
- Sedano’s: 7:00 AM-8:00 AM daily
- Target: 8:00 AM-9:00 AM, Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- Whole Foods: 7:00 AM-8:00 AM, daily
- Winn Dixie & Fresco y Mas: 8:00 AM-9:00 AM, weekdays
- Dollar General: first hour, daily
Senior shopping hours may vary by location. You can contact your grocery store to confirm their hours.
Social Security recipients are eligible for economic impact payments through the CARES Act of a maximum of $1,200. The Treasury Department is working with the Social Security Administration to ensure Social Security recipients receive these payments automatically. Social Security recipients who filed 2018 or 2019 federal tax returns that include direct deposit information will receive payments in mid-April (likely the week of April 13) This accounts for nearly 99% of Social Security beneficiaries. Social Security recipients who receive their Social Security benefits via direct deposit and who do not normally file tax returns will receive their payments approximately ten days later.
The CARES Act also eases some retirement rules by waiving the 10 percent tax on early distributions from retirement accounts for people who have been economically harmed by coronavirus. It also waives required minimum distributions (RMDs) that are required to be made in 2020 from defined contribution plans (such as 401(k) plans) and IRAs, so people can keep the money in their accounts longer.
Social distancing may put older adults at greater risk for the unintended consequences of social isolation, such as loneliness. For this reason, it is important for older adults to identify and establish frequent contact with vital connections (friends, family, caregivers, neighbors) and to update communication equipment (like cellphones, laptops, etc.) to facilitate digital communication.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) continues working to resolve the issues with the reemployment application system. In the meantime, the DEO has released PDF applications for unemployment benefits in several languages. Here are links to the English Form, the Spanish Form, and the Creole Form. Once the form is filled out, you can mail it to the address listed on the application.