By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
A panel of guests joined Councilmember Mike Bonin for a Telephone Town Hall to address issues and share resources related to seniors on Thursday, April 30.
“We have many folks on the line tonight and that’s because we have many, many, many seniors in the city of Los Angeles in the 11th District,” Bonin said. “We have over 33,000 seniors who live … on the Westside and we have 1.8 million who live in Los Angeles County.”
Bonin said the COVID-19 pandemic has been disproportionately affecting seniors, and they make up an at-risk population, facing issues like food insecurity and social isolation.
Lauren Trejo, general manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging, kicked off the panel discussion.
Trejo said the last few weeks have presented challenges as the department has had to transform its services. They have transitioned their congregate dining services to home-delivered meals, ramping up the amount of meals that are being produced each day.
Trejo added that the Department of Aging offers additional resources, including transportation, care management and wellness education.
Patricia Perez, head of the California branch of AARP, said that there are many accessible resources available for caregivers and seniors on its website. Perez also shared information on AARP’s Community Connection to address the issue of isolation: Individuals can sign up and connect with a volunteer who can pick up groceries, provide financial assistance or lend emotional support.
Maribel Marin of 211 Los Angeles County said services are being continued and hotlines are still operating with their agents working from home.
“Right now, we are able to help people sign up for testing and also to enroll in the food program … and the free meals to seniors that are provided through the county area agency,” Marin said. “Food is one of the top reasons people call us.”
Marin said they are working to set up more online resources to provide a way to sign up without having to wait for an available agent.
The fourth and final panelist was Molly Davies, vice president of the Elder Abuse Prevention and Ombudsman Services at WISE & Healthy Aging.
“We’re advocates for residents who reside in nursing homes, assisted living or care facilities,” Davies said. “We cover all of Los Angeles and our responsibilities are to identify and investigate complaints that are made by or on behalf of folks that are living in these long-term care facilities.”
Davies said her team is not permitted in facilities currently to reduce the number of visitors and keep residents safe. They contact and check in with the staff to get a sense of how people are doing.
Davies said information has been sent to residents in long-term care facilities to let them know how to contact WISE & Healthy Aging during this time.
The panelists then took questions from residents on the call, re-addressing the resources available.
“You are not alone, there are resources and people out there to help you, and our job is to try our best to connect you,” Bonin said. “Our goal is to make sure … nobody falls through the cracks.”
The Telephone Town Hall series has previously addressed general public health and renter’s issues. Bonin said in the next few weeks, they will be discussing issues related to small businesses and parents.
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