Three months ago, I partnered with Sunshine Centres for Seniors to provide monthly healthcare seminars for seniors in Toronto. Sunshine Centres for Seniors is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that offers year-round recreation, socialization and health promotion programs to seniors from across Toronto. Three months ago, when I first started hosting these seminars, I would have never imagined that our world was weeks away from a shut down due to a pandemic. These are unprecedented and challenging times for all, but many seniors in our community are at the forefront of those who have been hit the hardest.
Self isolation and quarantine protocols are critical during these times to help flatten the curve as we hope to return to a somewhat normal lifestyle as soon as possible. However, self isolation poses a health risk for seniors and it can disproportionately affect elderly individuals who don’t have close family and friends and those who rely on social interaction in the community through programs such as ones hosted by Sunshine Centres for Seniors.
I was extremely excited when I was contacted by one of the coordinators at the centre who advised that they are continuing programing for seniors via Zoom. At SpecialtyRx, we have been getting a lot of questions from seniors who had questions about medication supply disruption, COVID-19 symptoms, and what to do if they develop symptoms and who to turn to for help. In order to address these common concerns, I decided to host an educational seminar on COVID-19 and talk about resources that are available to seniors in Toronto and at SpecialtyRx. We had a great turn out and had many attendees who joined in to listen on their phones and their desktops.
We discussed COVID-19 symptoms, social distancing measures and using Ontario government’s online self-assessment tool to guide next steps if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19. We also discussed the work of many organizations that are offering services to seniors during these uncertain and difficult time (listed below). Many seniors expressed concerns over not being able to access their primary health care providers during these lockdowns. I encourage our patients and seniors to call us at any of our locations if they have questions regarding their medications and refills, as pharmacists in Ontario can authorize refills for many chronic medications. Our pharmacists can also refer patients to clinics that are offering virtual appointments if they are unable to book an appointment with their physician.
SpecialtyRx remains open to service our patients, and we are offering curbside pick up and free contactless delivery across GTA.
Resources for Seniors in Toronto:
1. Friendly Neighbour Hotline (1-855—581-9580):
· Grocery and Other Household Essentials delivery by volunteers in Toronto (Up to 8 Items)
· Pick up and Pay in Lobby (Cash Preferred)
· Service Provided in 180+ Languages
· Order Online: https://form.jotform.com/friendlyneighbourhotline/onlineorder
2. Toronto Seniors Helpline (416-217-2077)
· Monday to Friday (9AM to 8PM)
· Saturday, Sunday and Holidays (9AM to 6 PM)
3. Cyber Seniors: www.cyberseniors.org
· Connecting seniors with volunteers to help seniors stay connected through technology. Videos on various topics such as: how to do online banking etc.
4. Ontario Community Support Association
· Online directory for home and community support services in Ontario
Preeti Gill, RPh