Everyday heroes during coronavirus crisis: Home attendants for older New Yorkers

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NEW YORK — The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens have an army of over 1,200 certified home care workers during the coronavirus crisis in New York City.

“No one can take care of them, they are alone, they need me,” said Reyna Diaz, a home attendant. Diaz was very busy on Tuesday afternoon checking in on two seniors on the upper east side. They are both frail and live alone.

Diaz says in this new COVID-19 world, new procedures are place. In the morning at 8 a.m. each day, Diaz has to answer a questionnaire, asking if she feels sick. She has to wear gloves and masks at all times.

Diaz also has to wash her hands every time she cares for the client, before and after.The NYC Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez says there are over 1.7 million older New Yorkers who are recommended to stay home and stay safe.

Home health aides, through case-management agencies, work to take care of older New Yorkers at home.

“From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you,” said Cortés-Vázquez, adding that the city also funds community-based caregiver programs throughout the five boroughs to support unpaid or family members caring for older adults.

Linda Hoffman, President of the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens, says since the pandemic phones have been ringing off the hook and they are hiring more certified home health aides

.“We are saving lives. This is an absolute life saving group of people. We are preventing falls, illness, accidents, broken bones, hospitalization and even certainly death,” said Hoffman.

Some of the Services her organization provides are food shopping and cooking, personal care, housekeeping and just having someone to depend on.

“They are also bringing cheer and socialization. These people would be so isolated otherwise,” said Hoffman. To be eligible you have to be 60 or over and have to be interviewed by a case manager.

You can find home attendant services here and respite care here.

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