Coronavirus (COVID-19): SMAA Operations Updates & What Older Adults Need to Know

We do not share this information out of fear or panic. Rather, we want to operate smartly and proactively, helping to ensure that as many of SMAA's programs and services are abled to be delivered with as little disruption as possible while keeping our clients, our volunteers, and our staff safe.

A Message from SMAA

How You Can Help

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The Southern Maine Agency on Aging is working on the front lines to deliver critical services to southern Maine’s most vulnerable citizens. We need your help now more than ever during this very challenging time.

The life-saving nature of SMAA’s services is now more evident than ever as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, in light of a significant loss of revenue in our adult day programming and other fee-for-service contracts, SMAA has been forced to temporarily furlough some of its employees. We want you to know that these challenging times only strengthen our resolve to put the needs of older Mainers first.

With your support, we can continue delivering critical services in our community, during a time when they are needed most.

Please consider making a donation to Southern Maine Agency on Aging today. Your gift will allow us to serve the growing needs of vulnerable older adults during this time of unprecedented need.

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SMAA Operations Updates to Keep Our Community Safe

Many staff members are working from home and available via phone and email.
As of Monday, March 16th, our office is Scarborough will not be welcoming in-person visitors or clients and our staff will be working remotely in an abundance of caution to keep our clients, staff and volunteers as safe as possible. The SMAA team of resource specialists will continue to conduct meetings with clients on-line and via phones—again, to keep everyone safe. Classes have been suspended temporarily and one-on-one meetings will be conducted over the phone when possible.  We are working hard to meet the needs of our constituents and will continue to answer client’s questions and provide information, as we always do.

Meal delivery in operation.
We are still accepting and processing Meals on Wheels referrals. As of April 2, we have delivered to all clients 3 weeks of emergency meals - a combination of frozen and shelf-stable meals. We our clients to be prepared in the event that delivery has to be temporarily suspended in the future for any reason.

We have temporarily reduced the price of Simply Delivered meals to $5 per meal (from $7 per meal). Simply Delivered meals are appropriate for individuals who are interested in nutritious meal delivery and who may not qualify for Meals on Wheels.

We have made the decision to suspend Community Cafes and congregate meals through the end of April in order to reduce any risk to the older adult population.  If a client was depending on that event for their daily meal, we have asked that they contact us to arrange for a home-delivered meal instead.

Temporarily suspending operations at the Sam L. Cohen Center.
As of March 16, we will be temporarily suspending operating at the Sam L. Cohen Center in Biddeford. Due to the latest CDC updates we feel that it is in the best safety and interest of our members to temporarily suspend operations at the Center. Staff will stay in contact with families regarding any changes in service and will also be available for information and resources.


COVID-19 Resources

Please call Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA) at 207-396-6500 or email SMAA at referral@smaaa.org to connect with a Resource Specialist regarding resource information related to the impact of the Coronavirus. SMAA also provides general resource information for older adults and adults with disabilities on topics such as housing, Medicare, transportation, etc.

Visit our dedicated COVID-19 resources page.


What Older Adults Need to Know

The CDC has identified older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. According to the CDC, early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness.

This is likely because as people age, their immune systems change, making it harder for their body to fight off diseases and infection, and because many older adults are also more likely to have underlying health conditions that make it harder to cope with and recover from illness. Age increases the risk that the respiratory system or lungs will shut down when an older person has COVID-19 disease.

That’s why the CDC is recommending that people at higher risk take the following actions:

  • Stay at home as much as possible.
  • Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications, food, and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact, and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Stay up to date on CDC Travel Health Notices.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that people with serious chronic conditions, especially the elderly, should think twice about traveling or going to crowded places. He advised that these individuals take the simple steps of “not putting yourself in a situation—whatever that might be—that might increase the risk given your situation.”

The CDC is urging individuals to stay calm and Share Facts, Not Fear. Among the CDC’s advice are these common-sense tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

How to Support Older Adults

People of all ages can support older adults during this time. Many older adults depend on services and supports provided in their homes or in the community to maintain their health and independence. The CDC recommends that family members, neighbors, and caregivers:

  • Know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help them have extra on hand.
  • Monitor food and other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.
  • Stock up on non-perishable food items to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
  • If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently, and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.

Beware of Scams

Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus. The Federal Trade Commission has identified several of them and is offering tips to protect yourself and others. These include watching for emails claiming to be from the CDC saying they have information about the virus and ignoring online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges, or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19 online or in stores.

If you receive an email asking you to donate to a nonprofit that is fighting the coronavirus, make sure to research the organization first through an independent charity rating service such as Charity Navigator.

Remember the Seasonal Flu, Too

It’s also important to remember that we are still in the middle of the seasonal flu season, which impacts older adults every year. According to the CDC, it’s estimated that 70-85% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people aged 65+.
While there is no vaccine for the coronavirus, it’s never too late for individuals to get their annual flu shot. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how you can protect yourself and those around you.

With COVID-19 and all health issues, when in doubt, the best course forward is always to consult with your doctor. Many physicians and health care providers are asking that people call or send their questions via email first before coming into the office.

Note: This page was last updated on April 2. Please check the CDC website for the most up-to-date information. Thank you!