Area Agency on Aging: Updates given for virus situation

By Kay Kaylor
PREVIEW Columnist
I advocate for residents in extended care and assisted living residences as the region’s lead long-term care ombudsman. I also am a Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor. Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.
To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA) employees have been working at home to continue with advocacy and counseling. Colorado ombudsmen are restricted from visiting nursing homes and assisted living residences and will evaluate the situation with weekly calls.
However, per federal law, ombudsmen will continue to advocate for the health, safety, well-being and rights of residents. The local and state health departments and federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are regularly giving guidelines to long-term care facilities to prevent and deal with infections. Temporary regulatory waivers also have been issued.
An additional concern during this time is the isolation of older adults. Calling, sending mail and using remote video with friends and neighbors will help keep everyone connected.
Due to the virus situation, Medicare has updated its coverage and relaxed some of its rules, such as the three-day hospital stay before covering skilled nursing care after a hospital admission. This is to make room for more hospital beds. Telehealth benefits have been expanded to keep people from going directly to health care providers unnecessarily.
Unfortunately, new types of scams are emerging. For example, emails with a COVID-19 live map that appear to be from Johns Hopkins University will download a Trojan computer virus if you click on the link. Don’t respond to calls, texts, online offers or emails about government checks or virus vaccinations and cures, and do not give out personal information. For more scam information, see this Federal Trade Commission Web page: www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing.
SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call 403-2165 or send an email to leadombudsman@sjbaaa.org.

This story was posted on April 12, 2020.