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Essential Court Functions
While courts have generally been ordered closed to the public through April 30 as a result of the COVID-19 disaster, there are essential court functions that are still being conducted. These essential functions include:
- Temporary protection from abuse actions;
- Civil mental health reviews;
- Guardianship defense and representation;
- Any pleadings or motions relating to public health concerns and involving immediate and irreparable harm;
- Emergency petitions related to the protection of abused or neglected children; and
- Any other function deemed by a president judge to be essential and consistent with constitutional requirements.
Help is still available for older adults who need legal assistance during this crisis include:
How to Pay for Vaccines
Medicare generally covers most recommended vaccines but depending on your Medicare plan, you may have out-of-pocket costs for some. Contact Medicare to find out what's covered.
Pennsylvania's prescription assistance programs for older adults, PACE and PACENET, offer low-cost prescription medication, including immunizations, to qualified Pennsylvania residents, age 65 and older.
Vaccines are especially important for older adults. For more information on immunization recommendations and related resources visit: Immunizations for Older Adults.
Proper nutrition is crucial for overall health. The Department of Aging wants to ensure all older adults still have access to nutritious meals.
In-home meals, SNAP supplemental grocery assistance program and other services are available to help you through COVID-19.
Contact your local AAA using the Area Agency on Aging Locator to find the AAA serving your local area.
Feeding America can also help by connecting you with local food banks and meal programs near you. Visit the Feeding America Partner Locator for more information.
If you are facing a food emergency you can call the Department of Human Services Helpline, toll-free, at 1-800-692-7462 or reach out to your local AAA using the Area Agency on Aging Locator.
Pennsylvania's ombudsman network is prepared to assist consumers with concerns in facilities throughout the current COVID-19 quarantine - advocating for the rights of residents in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, personal-care homes, and assisted-living facilities.
During COVID-19, ombudsmen are also serving as a resource and connecting concerned individuals to the appropriate public health entities, and promoting and facilitating communication with residents through phone, email and video conferencing.
Many of the ombudsmen are teleworking from home, so we ask that you call the state office at (717) 783-8975 or email to LTCfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Virtual Family Council Meetings
Family and friends who are unable to see loved ones living in long-term care facilities because of the COVID-19 emergency may struggle with changes in protocol, rights and policies. The Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is available to help with a new statewide resource called Virtual Family Council.
The program offers weekly online meetings with a local ombudsman and a team of 10 local experts. Anyone can participate and ask questions, share concerns, or just listen to learn and gather information. The meetings will not address specific issues regarding a resident or a facility.
If you would like to attend email Jay Rotz at email@example.com and use 'Virtual Family Council' in the subject line to receive a meeting link and instructions. *The meeting link will remain the same each week so if you would like to attend another meeting you can reuse the same information.
Early Prescription Refills
PACE, the prescription assistance program, is allowing for early prescription refills in order to allow older adults to keep several weeks' worth of medication on hand as is recommended by the current COVID-19 preparedness guidance.
Under regular circumstances, enrollees must use 75% of their supply before refills will be reimbursed. PACE will now reimburse refills purchased before 75% of the days' supply has passed except for opioids and other controlled substances – these will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
To refill your medication early, simply ask your pharmacy provider.
Pharmacies Offering Free Medication Delivery for All Older Adults
Local pharmacies across Pennsylvania are now offering free delivery for all older adults, even if they are not a PACE beneficiary.
When requesting your medication to be filled or refilled, simply ask your pharmacy provider for free home delivery.
Waived Signature Requirement Now Allows for No-Contact Prescription Delivery
As a result of current COVID-19 guidance, no-contact prescription delivery is now available.
PACE has waived the requirement that pharmacies must obtain a delivery signature on all prescriptions, allowing medications to be left at your door.
If you are having difficulties obtaining your refills, please contact PACE cardholder services at 1-800-225-7223.
One of our primary responsibilities at the Department of Aging is to protect older adults by investigating suspected cases of abuse quickly and thoroughly.
During the COVID-19 emergency, we are taking steps to reduce the risk of exposure to both older adults and Protective Services workers.
However, rest assured, we are still working every day to protect older Pennsylvanians from abuse, neglect, exploitation and/or abandonment.
If you suspect elder abuse, please call the statewide abuse reporting hotline at 1-800-490-8505, which is open 24/7, 365 days per year.
Unfortunately, major events often result in new scams and COVID-19 has created new opportunities for scammers to target Pennsylvanians. It is now more important than ever to protect your personal information and be on the lookout for potential scams.
Recent scams include:
- Calls or emails asking for individuals to provide personal information in order to receive their COVID relief check
- Phone calls stating there is an issue with your social security benefits and/or they may be canceled if you do not act right away
- Letters sent through the U.S. Mail threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures
- Phone calls, text messages or even at home visitors offering COVID-19 tests and/or unapproved treatments
The best defense is to
NO if anyone contacts you and asks for your Social Security number, bank account number, credit card information, Medicare ID number, driver's license number or any other personally identifiable information by phone, in person, by text message, or email.
For Questions or to Report Scams visit:
While we need to stay home as much as possible, it is more important than ever to keep moving! Physical activity strengthens our bodies and our immune system and releases endorphins -- helping us feel calm, happy and less stressed.
Remember, social distancing does not mean you must stay indoors. Take a walk or sit on your porch and get some fresh air.
If staying inside, stretch, meditate or play music and dance.
The National Institute on Aging has lots of workout videos you can easily do in your home with no gym equipment needed!
Silver Sneakers also offers free online classes too and includes:
While social distancing has become our new norm, we need to find new ways to stay connected. Feeling connected has a huge impact on our overall health and wellbeing.
Write notes, send videos or cards. You can use a smartphone, tablet or computer to send or receive text messages, pictures and videos. You can also send handwritten postcards or letters to friends and family. There are even free online cards you can send to anyone with an email address.
Host a virtual get-together. If you can't meet your friends and family in person, move the gathering online via a group video chat. You can use services like Facetime, Skype, and Zoom. If you're in need of some tech help, here are instructions for some of the most popular video options:
Listen to music, tour zoos, museums, theme parks and listen to live concerts Online. There are lots of free radio services like
iHeart Radio. Also, organizations like the Seattle Symphony are finding new ways to share their services during these challenging times.
Enjoy free live broadcasts of the symphony from the comfort of your own home. Do an internet search to find places you'd like to 'visit' online.
Join an Online Discussion Group or Book Club. Discussion groups found on sites like SeniorChatters offer a way for older adults to engage in different topics online. Use these tools to meet other seniors from all over the world and discuss your favorite hobbies. If you're a reader, consider joining an online book club. Celadon Books shares their favorite
book clubs that you can join online.
Find Happiness. Happiness is inside you so be sure to take the time to find yours.
YouTube Channel 'Some Good News' and Facebook pages like the Virtual Visits of Cheer page can brighten anyone's day.
Volunteer online. This is a great way to do good for others right from your home. Options include a variety of opportunities at
Senior Corps or
Volunteer Match or supporting specific projects like at the United Nations, assisting the Smithsonian Institution, or helping people in need at the Crisis Text Line.
Staying at home and avoiding crowds is necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but it can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Additionally, being of an older age or having underlying medical conditions can make you feel more vulnerable to the virus and can increase your stress and anxiety even further.
If you or a loved one is starting to feel the effects of being isolated, you are not alone.
Take steps to improve your mental well-being during COVID-19 by:
- Taking a break from the watching or reading the news
- Making sure you get your information from trusted sources and avoid rumors
Learn tips to help better manage stress during this difficult time
- Making sure you continue to take your medicines and practicing regular daily grooming
- Finding activities you enjoy like crafting, puzzles, cooking, games, reading or dancing
Know When to Ask for Help
If you're feeling hopeless, overwhelmed and anxious, reach out now! Talk to a friend, family member, or caregiver and tell them how you are feeling.
You can also reach out by phone to;