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DeKALB - Though no confirmed coronavirus cases are yet known in DeKalb County, organizations are taking extra efforts to ensure the local senior population, one of the most vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19, stay safe, healthy and isolated.
The Daily Chronicle spoke with Tara Russo, executive director of Elder Care Services of DeKalb County, to compile a resource guide for seniors.
"Our clients are scared," Russo said. "They don't want to leave their homes. Even going to the grocery store scares them."
In an emergency meeting at city hall called Tuesday, Russo announced her agency has been awarded $17,000. The grant from the Illinois Department on Aging will help Russo's agency aid seniors and provide them with food, emergency supplies, prescription medication and anything else they may need.
She's also working with DeKalb County Community Gardens and the Voluntary Action center to deliver groceries (or for those who prefer not to do their own cooking), fully prepared meals to seniors who wish to stay at home or are unable to venture outside.
In order to utilize Elder Care Services, call 815-758-6550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The agency's office is closed due to COVID-19 concerns, so staff are working remotely but will be on call to assist, Russo said.
How can I limit my exposure to coronavirus?
First and foremost, health care professionals such as Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital's Bob Manam, an infectious disease specialist, recommend those 60 and older stay inside as much as possible. Many area retirement and nursing facilities have also barred visitors to limit potential COVID-19 spread.
If you're experiencing symptoms (fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath) or feel ill in any way, you should call your doctor who will screen you with a list of questions to determine if you require a COVID-19 test. IF you call 911 in DeKalb County, they will also screen your symptoms to be able to more adequately respond to your medical need.
"Seniors should stay in, talk to family members, see if they'll help you get your supplies," Russo said. "If you are stuck and don't have anyone to help, call us and we'll get you taken care of."
What do I do if my home health care worker can't come in?
Russo said another phenomenon occurring that's impacting seniors is the loss of their in-home aids.
"We've been seeing home care aids not coming into work because they're home with kids or showing symptoms," Russo said. "There has been a trend of seniors that have put their services on hold because they don't want somebody coming in because they're scared."
Russo recommends calling Elder Care Services who will direct them to the best second resource, whether a family member or a different medical professional.
What if I don't want to leave my home but still need to pickup my prescription medication?
Local pharmacies such as Lehan Drugs offers free delivery of items such as medication refills, oxygen, home medical equipment, life chair rentals and more, according to its website.
Russo said her agency coordinates with the Voluntary Action Center and other resources, and will ensure seniors get what they need if they call.
Grocery stores with senior-only shopping hours:
Schnucks, 975 S. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb
When: 6 to 7 a.m. daily
Hy-Vee, 2700 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore
When: 7 to 8 a.m. daily, for customers over 60, expectant mothers, and anyone with an underlying health condition
Target, 2555 Sycamore Road, Sycamore
8 to 9 a.m. Wednesdays
Dollar General, 1401 S. Fourth St., DeKalb
When: 8 to 9 a.m. Wednesdays
Jewel-Osco, 1320 Sycamore Road, DeKalb or 220 W. Peace Road, Sycamore
When: 7 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays
Walmart, 2300 Sycamore Road, DeKalb
6 a.m. to 7 a.m. every Tuesday beginning March 24 through April 28, for those 60 and older. Pharmacies and Vision Center will also be open at this time.
Due to the continually-changing pace of coronavirus-related news, this list could be updated as more information becomes available. We encourage you to regularly check back in at www.daily-chronicle.com.