Preparing & protecting: Creating a safety net
By Najja R. Orr, MBA, DBA, PCA president & CEO
It’s been three years since our country was overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We all remember the nationwide stay-at-home orders, massive supply shortages, and overcrowded hospitals.
As a nation, we were not prepared to deal with the pandemic. Many community-based organizations and social service agencies were forced to make significant adjustments to their operations or how services were delivered. I’m extremely proud of the staff at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) because they remained consumer-focused and dedicated to our agency’s mission, which allowed us to weather some of our agency’s toughest operational and community challenges and continue serving older adults and people with disabilities.
At a moment’s notice, our staff and community partners pivoted to social-distanced phone and virtual communications, assuring that vital services, such as care management, Older Adult Protective Services, and home-delivered meals, continued without interruption. PCA’s senior community centers transformed their nutrition services by providing more than 1.2 million meals from March 20, 2020 through May 2023.
We all have learned many very important lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Make an emergency plan with friends, family or neighbors.
- Follow the guidance of official government and health care professionals.
- Try a computer course to have another means to connect with information, resources and people.
- Maintain your social connections and keep active to boost your mental health.
- Reach out to others in need.
- Ask for help when you need it.
Now, three years later, these topics are still just as important as they were in March 2020. That’s why we’ve devoted the June 2023 issue of Milestones newspaper to providing you with information to keep you healthy- and informed in times of both crisis and stability.
As for PCA, like other service-oriented organizations that provide support to the public, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that we are prepared for the next emergency, whether it be a natural disaster, public health crisis or some other catastrophe. We are constantly challenging ourselves to always be ready to support those who need us.
Elder abuse awareness
Every year, an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans experience some form of abuse, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. Among PCA’s greatest charges is to provide advocacy and protection for older adults who are being abused, neglected, abandoned, or financially exploited.
To draw attention to this cause, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is held every year on June 15. The observance was started in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization to “provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older people by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect,” according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.
PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services team works to detect, prevent and protect older Philadelphians from all forms of abuse, including physical, sexual and psychological abuse; self-neglect or neglect by a caregiver; and financial exploitation. Staff are available to provide intake, investigation, assessment, care planning and crisis resolution. Reports of suspected abuse may be made confidentially 24/7 by anyone, including the older adult in need.
You can count on PCA to be here for you when you need us, just like we have been for the last 50 years. For information and assistance for older Philadelphians, adults living with disabilities and caregivers, contact PCA’s Helpline at 215-765-9040 or visit pcaCares.org.