Two of the most vulnerable populations are those we at SDA know very well – the seniors and those with disabilities.
As a member of the disabled community, I am affected in many ways by Coronavirus. I cannot drive due to a visual disability so I take public transportation. Some of my disabilities make it a challenge for me with spacial planning, which is especially difficult in times like this, especially when I have to try to determine the distance I am from someone else when I am near others.
For members of the senior community, they are left with their own set of challenges – they may be offered food delivery but they are particularly vulnerable to health issues reslated to a risk of Coronavirus on the food, so many are left with challenges as to how to access this.
After talking to Judy Siskind, a senior in her 70s in Miami, she informed me that some of the most challenging aspects for her in the midst of Coronavirus – although she is able to walk around and drive – are both age and pre existing medical conditions. “Both combine to put me at a very high risk of a bad outcome if I were to contract Coronavirus. Therefore, my husband and I are reluctant to take any risk that isn’t absolutely necessary. The choices we make feel like life or death. I have not walked into the door of any other place besides my own home for 3 weeks. My husband has gone out once for a large grocery shopping during senior hours.”
Siskind said that as seniors she and her husband look for ways to get their medication and household supplies by mail as much as possible because of the same fear. “Also as seniors, contact with our children and grandchildren is important to us and the prospect of not being able to see them for months is very sad.”
She does make clear, however, “Although we are in our 70s we have friends in their 80s and 90s who are well aware that they are at the greatest risk statistically of not surviving and therefore also are concerned personally and for society about doctors having to make choices about which lives to save.”
Hulda Brown, a 75 year old senior who has had a spinal cord injury for 39 years and uses a cane finds it very difficult to have to rely not on the buses and public transportation during times like these but on hills in neighborhoods like Bernal Heights. “Closed down streets are an inconvenience,” she said. “Shelter in place is a good idea but those of us sheltering in place need services too.”
Brown points out that it needs to be taken into consideration that not everybody has mobility. “Like everybody else I am ready for it to get back to normal. Everybody needs a hug now and then.”
In addition to having a grandson and granddaughter who lost their jobs, Brown feels that this situation is uniquely bad. “I have never had to walk down a normally bustling street and see nothing.”
While people throughout the country, from Miami to San Francisco, are having to live life in a new way, it is people in the senior and disabled community who are the most affected and must come together in a challenging time when this virus is forcing us further apart.