senior citizens

Concern Grows Over ‘Senior Isolation’ Amid Stay-at-Home Order

Downey urges every San Diegan to think about any seniors who may be living alone right now and reach out. He says a simple phone call to talk about the weather or ask them about their day would make a huge difference

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Serving Seniors, a San Diego based non-profit, is asking food delivery drivers to watch for senior citizens who may be showing increased signs of depression.

Even before precautions were taken to stop the spread of COVID-19, the term "senior isolation" was one of the biggest concerns for people dealing directly with senior citizens.

After close to two months of a "stay at home" order meant to spread people apart, organizations dealing with this elderly population are seeing some concerning signs, including depression and anxiety.

For seniors, some of the smallest day-to-day tasks meant interaction, Paul Downey, CEO for the non-profit Serving Seniors explains.

"Even if it's going and interacting with the bank clerk, that is a social interaction, and when you can't get that, we all know that mental health can impact physical health" Downey said.

Downey's organization delivers 6,000 meals a day to seniors across San Diego, which is a huge uptick in service compared to their 800 deliveries a day back in early March.

His drivers are his eyes and ears in the community and are purposefully given the same delivery routes.

The drivers are trained to look for signs of distress among the people they serve, which could include anything from a disheveled appearance to a change in demeanor.

"And they were anecdotally sharing with me that they are starting to see some physical and mental deterioration from folks who are isolated," said Downey, "[Seniors] are not able to get any exercise and [drivers] can physically see some of the changes in these folks and that is cause for concern".

Downey urges every San Diegan to think about any seniors who may be living alone right now and reach out. He says a simple phone call to talk about the weather or ask them about their day would make a huge difference.

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