May is Older Americans Month. This year’s theme is Community of Strength
In tough times like we have experienced this past year, people find strength in their communities. In Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, we’ve seen friends, neighbors, community groups, nonprofit organizations and businesses finding new ways to support each other.
Older adults are a key source of this strength. Through their experiences, successes, and difficulties, they have developed a resilience that helps them face new challenges. When communities recognize and tap into this quality, they become stronger too.
This year, we encourage our community members to recognize the important role older adults play by fostering connections and engaging with our older adult neighbors.
Here are some ways to connect:
Look for the joy – celebrate small moments and ordinary pleasures our older adults offer by taking a little time to recognize them. Take a moment to say thank you to an older adult neighbor or family member.
Reach out – offer to help when you can.
Listen to the stories – spend some time to hear how older adults experience the world and appreciate the wisdom they have to share. Opening up new conversations help to broaden our community connections.
For more than twenty years, Common Ground Senior Services has been providing services and resources to older adult in our communities. Please join us in recognizing the value of our older adults and in the process, you are helping to strengthen our community.
Living with Chronic Health Conditions?
Calaveras County is offering a workshop that could be for you.
Calaveras County COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLOUT COMING SOON
COVID-19 vaccination is one of the most important tools we have to end this pandemic. After healthcare workers and long-term care residents, the next to be vaccinated will be individuals who: have a higher risk for severe disease or death (due to age or other factors), are unable to work at home, live or work in areas that have been highly impacted, and those most likely to spread disease to other workers or to the public. The Calaveras County COVID-19 vaccine rollout is based on the CDPH allocation guidelines. To learn more visit:
January 6, 2021
COMMON GROUND’S AMADOR COUNTY MEALS ON WHEELS PROGRAM BENEFITS FROM DONATION BY JACKSON RANCHERIA CASINO RESORT
Between December 1st and December 26th, Jackson Rancheria raised $33,000 to be equally divided among five local charities, including Common Ground Senior Services.
Crystal Jack, CEO Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians, stated “The annual Giving Season Promotion is something that we look forward to each year and we are hopeful that the donations will positively impact our local communities as we enter into the new year.”
The funds donated to Common Ground through the Giving Season Promotion will help provide more than 1,200 meals to homebound and isolated seniors living in Amador County.
Ellume Health COVID-19 home test kit
COVID-19 HOME TEST
On Tuesday, the FDA issued an emergency authorization for the nation’s first COVID-19 home test kit that does not requiring a doctor’s prescription. Ellume Health, developers of the home test kit, indicate the test will cost about $30 or less and they plan to start shipping the test kit sometime in January, 2021.
The test has been authorized for people with or without COVID-19 symptoms and can be taken from the safety of one’s home. The test can be used on adults and children as young as 2 years old. The user simply adds a frew drops of liquid to the sample swab and places it in a small plastic device. Results from the test will be available in 15 to 20 minutes using a smartphone app developed by Ellume Health.
Ellume Health has not yet determined where the test kits may be available for sale.
What Seniors Can Expect When COVID Vaccines Begin to Roll Out
Vaccines that protect against COVID-19 are on the way. What should older adults expect?
The first candidates, from Pfizer and Moderna, could arrive before Christmas, according to Alex Azar, who heads the Department of Health and Human Services.
Both vaccines are notably effective in preventing illness due to the coronavirus, according to information released by the companies, although much of the data from clinical trials is still to come. Both have been tested in adults age 65 and older, who mounted a strong immune response.
Seniors in nursing homes and assisted living centers will be among the first Americans vaccinated, following recommendations last week by a federal advisory panel. Older adults living at home will need to wait a while longer.
Many uncertainties remain. Among them: What side effects can older adults anticipate and how often will these occur? Will the vaccines offer meaningful protection to seniors who are frail or have multiple chronic illnesses?
Here’s a look at what’s known, what’s not and what lies ahead.
Decision-making timetable. Pfizer’s vaccine will be evaluated by a 15-member Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Thursday. Moderna’s vaccine is expected to go before the panel Dec. 17.
If the advisory panel gives a green light, the FDA will decide within days or weeks whether to authorize the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for emergency use. Distribution of the vaccine has already begun, and health care providers are expected to begin administering it immediately after the FDA acts.
Allocation framework. At a Dec. 1 meeting of the Advisory Commission on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which guides the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccines, experts recommended that people living in long-term care (primarily nursing homes and assisted living facilities) and health care workers be the first groups to get COVID-19 vaccines.
This recognizes the extraordinary burden of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. Although their residents represent fewer than 1% of the U.S. population, they account for 40% of COVID deaths — more than 100,000 deaths to date.
The commission’s decision comes despite a lack of evidence that Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are effective and safe for frail, vulnerable seniors in long-term care. Vaccines were not tested in this population. Federal officials insist side effects will be carefully monitored.
Next in line likely would be essential workers who cannot work from home, such as police, firefighters, teachers and people employed in food processing and transportation, according to commission deliberations Nov. 23 that have not come to a formal vote.
Then would be adults with high-risk medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, obesity, heart disease and autoimmune diseases and all adults age 65 and older.
Although states typically follow ACIP guidelines, some states may choose, for instance, to vaccinate high-risk older adults before some categories of essential workers.
Left off the list are family caregivers, who provide essential support to vulnerable older adults living in the community — an unpaid workforce of tens of millions of people. “If someone is providing day-to-day care, it makes sense they should have access to the vaccine, too, to keep everyone safe,” said Beth Kallmyer, vice president of care and support for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Further prioritization. The priority groups constitute nearly half of the U.S. population — 21 million health care workers, 3 million long-term care residents, 66 million essential workers, more than 100 million adults with high-risk conditions and 53 million adults age 65 and older.
With initial supplies of vaccines limited, setting priorities will be inevitable. Practically, this means that hospitals and physicians may try to identify older adults who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and offer them vaccines before other seniors.
A study of more than 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older provides new evidence that could influence these assessments. It found the conditions that most increase older adults’ chances of dying from COVID-19 are sickle cell disease, chronic kidney disease, leukemias and lymphomas, heart failure, diabetes, cerebral palsy, obesity, lung cancer and heart attacks, in that order.
Supplies available. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, administered three to four weeks apart. The companies have said about 40 million doses of their vaccines should be available this year, enough to fully vaccinate about 20 million people.
After that, 50 million doses might become available in January, followed by 60 million doses in both February and March, according to Dr. Larry Corey, a virologist who heads the COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network.
That translates into enough vaccine for another 85 million people and should be sufficient to vaccinate older adults in addition to medical personnel on the front lines and many other at-risk individuals, Corey suggested at a recent panel on COVID-19 sponsored by the National Academy of Medicine and American Public Health Association.
He acknowledged these were estimates, based on information he has been given. Pfizer and Moderna have not yet specified how much vaccine will be delivered and when. Nor is it clear when other vaccines under investigation will become available — 13 are in phase 3 clinical trials — or what their monthly production capacity might be.
Distribution issues. As Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are rolled out, a very vulnerable group may have difficulty getting them: 2 million seniors who are homebound and another 5.3 million with physical impairments who have problems getting around.
The reason: handling and cold storage requirements.
Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, calling for special equipment not available in small hospitals, clinics or doctors’ offices. Moderna’s vaccine needs long-term storage at minus 20 degrees Celsius.
Addressing mistrust. Advocates have a big job ahead of them. According to a recent poll from the University of Michigan, only 58% of older adults (ages 50 to 80) said they were very or somewhat likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine. A significant number of older adults, 46%, thought they’d get the vaccine eventually but wanted others to go first. Only 20% wanted to get it as soon as possible.
Most important in making decisions is knowing how well the vaccine works, according to 80% of the 1,556 older adults surveyed. Just over half (52%) said a recommendation from their doctor would be influential.