While the medical and public health communities continue to work towards flattening the curve for COVID-19 infections, data continues to show that older adults may be at higher risk for severe illness from coronavirus. A few weeks ago on this blog, we provided information on the spatial distribution of the senior population in Georgia: https://33n.atlantaregional.com/monday-mapday/monday-mapday-older-populations
|If you or your constituents are seeking services for older adults in the Atlanta region, Empowerline can help. Call the 24/7 helpline at (404) 463-3333 or visit empowerline.org today.|
According to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health, 463 Georgians have passed away due to complications related to COVID-19. Of those deaths, 84.0% were 60 years and older and at least 69.2% of those older adults had an underlying medical condition. However, only 35% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia have been older adults 60 years and older. (Source: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health as of 04/13/2020 11:56:13)
Statistics in the 10-county Atlanta region show a similar pattern. As of noon on April 13, 2020, 159 people had passed away from complications related to COVID-19 in this area. 83.6% of those deaths were individuals 60 years and older, and at least 73.7% of those older adults had an underlying medical condition. (Source: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health as of 04/13/2020 11:56:13)
What Older Adults Need
It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has serious implications for the older adult population in the Atlanta region. As we all make changes to our daily routines to address this challenge, it’s important to ask: What programs and services could help seniors weather the spread of coronavirus?
To better understand the needs of the region’s aging population, we looked at data from Empowerline at the Atlanta Region’s Aging & Disability Resource Connection. Empowerline is the front desk for people who need help navigating life changes and surprise obstacles, including the current coronavirus pandemic. Through this call center, certified phone counselors connect callers for free with resources and services for older persons and individuals living with disabilities in metro Atlanta.
Between March 12, 2020 and April 8, 2020, Empowerline phone counselors answered 5,345 calls. Below is a pie chart showing the breakdown of the topics discussed during these calls. While calls specific to COVID-19 made up just a small proportion of the total received, the vast majority of those calls were regarding Home and Community Based Services and Medicaid Waivers— both of which help older adults live in their homes as independently as possible. These services include the Meals on Wheels program and home healthcare. Home and Community Based Services and Medicaid Waivers provide critical supports for older adults that are sheltering at home due to the pandemic.
While critical home, health, and community services continue to comprise the majority of Empowerline calls, the growth of COVID-19 related calls over the past month indicates the emerging needs for efforts and resources to support this particularly vulnerable population. We will continue to track this data to better support the region’s aging community.
Empowerline is Here for You
If you are looking to connect with resources and services for older adults in metro Atlanta, please contact Empowerline at 404-463-3333 or visit their website at Empowerline.org.