LEE COUNTY, Fla. — For most, the holiday season is a time to spend with loved ones, but this year, the pandemic is changing how many of us will celebrate.
“You know in years passed we didn’t think twice about driving to our family members or flying to see our loved ones,” said Norma Adorno, CEO of the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida.
As we continue to navigate the Coronavirus pandemic and with cases surging across the country, this holiday season will be extra tough for some older adults.
“They are our most vulnerable population right now,” said Adorno.
With many seniors choosing to stay home to prevent exposure to the virus, Adorno says that isolation can take a mental toll.
“They’re going through fear, they’re going through anxious times, wondering if this is ever going to go away,” said Adorno.
To ensure no senior feels alone during the holiday season, The Florida Department of Elder Affairs and statewide Area Agencies on Aging are launching the "Together Apart: Holidays at Heart" campaign.
“It’s a way that we are able to reach out to our elderly community and to basically let them know that we’re here for you, we support you,” said Adorno.
From November through January, each agency will be reaching out to local seniors to conduct mental health checks and ensure they are aware of the resources available to them.
“They can be subject to any type of mental needs, and casework needs, housing needs, utility needs,” said Adorno.
These resources are available year-round, not just during the holidays.
Those in need can always call the statewide elder helpline at (866) 413-5337, or the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida at (239) 652-6900.
“We are in your backyard, and it’s just a simple call to let us know what you need so we can facilitate that, and make sure we refer you to the right agency, to the right service line that can help provide you with that,” said Adorno.
Other resources provided as part of the campaign include virtual magic shows.
"We want to bring a little bit of joy, hope, and an opportunity to just laugh and have friends and family join, even if it is just an hour," said Adorno.
The first virtual magic show will be next Wednesday, November 25.
The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida servers adults older 60-years-old and older, and adults with disabilities in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota counties.
The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is located in Fort Myers.
To learn more about AAASWFL, click here.