For over a decade, Collat Jewish Family Services’ Amy Peetluk has functioned as a surrogate daughter for Mrs. C., an elderly widow whose children live out of state. Through CJFS’ “Just Like Family” program, Amy accompanies Mrs. C. to doctors’ visits, communicates with Mrs. C’s children and connects Mrs. C with resources that enable her to continue living independently despite the infirmities of age. When Amy recently learned that Mrs. C’s adult son had died in the Midwest, she found a way to comfort her longtime client in person – without violating social distancing guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus. “Mrs. C. sat on her porch, and I sat in my truck about 20 feet away, and that’s how we had our condolence visit. We talked about her son and the plans she was making for handling his affairs,” Amy said. “I know it was a comfort to her, and it meant a lot to be able to be there for her.
As difficult as “sheltering in place” is for families, it presents special challenges for seniors living alone. “That weekly visit from a caregiver – or just exchanging greetings with a neighbor or a grocery clerk – can be an important social interaction,” Amy said. “Without those interactions, older adults can feel isolated and lonely.” Through regular check-in calls, CJFS staff members like Amy are ensuring that their older clients’ basic needs are met – and they’re also ensuring that those seniors feel connected and cared for. “Whatever we’re doing for our clients – whether it involves their housing, healthcare or finances – we’re also going to provide emotional support when it’s needed,” Amy says. “That’s just what we do.”
For the safety of our staff, clients and the community as a whole, CJFS has suspended all face-to-face services. However our proessional staff is working remotely and our phone system enables us to respond to you quickly during business hours. Call us at 205.879.3438 if you need supportive counseling, at no cost to you, to help manage the stress and anxiety we are all feeling in this uncertain time. We also offer assistance for older adults and vunerable populations for needs such as food and medication. We are here for you!