Lehigh Valley senior citizens cope face special challenges during stay-at-home orders

Written by on March 30, 2020

Lehigh Valley senior citizens cope face special challenges during stay-at-home orders

By Ben Stemrich

March 30, 2020

With a new mandatory stay-at-home order in place across the Lehigh Valley, local aging officials are telling seniors not to leave home unless absolutely necessary. 

But as WLVR’s Ben Stemrich reports, following those recommendations can create new problems for older adults, including social isolation. 

Michael Manento, a 79-year resident of Bethlehem says he lives just feet away from his girlfriend of 20 years, Mell Master. They’re taking the virus very seriously and are worried about coming in contact with each other too much.

“At our age we value our lives…worked hard to stay healthy all our lives…and we just don’t want to take a chance of anyone giving us the virus or being in contact. So we’re willing to do what we have to do to stay alive,” said Manento. 

Manento says he and his girlfriend have what they need for now, but J.R. Reed, Executive Director of Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services, says other seniors may require more support.

“The elderly need to get prescriptions, their food, homecare coming to their house. So we do a lot of those kinds of services from our office, so we’re encouraging others to go out for them if they can,” said Reed. 

Stay at home orders may help protect seniors from COVID-19, but feeling cut off from friends, family and caregivers also carries risks. According to the AARP, social isolation can have the same negative health consequences as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. 

Advocates suggest family and friends check in with seniors more frequently now, teach them to use video chats, or find other ways to help older neighbors in need. 


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