By Lily Karofsky
FRAMINGHAM – Mayor Yvonne Spicer held a community hour on Zoom focused on Framingham’s older citizens concerning the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, July 21.
Mayor Spicer was joined by the Chair of the Council on Aging Clyde Dottin, the Director of Elder Services, Council on Aging and Callahan Center Grace O’Donnell, and the Director of the Health Department Dr. Sam Wong.
The four discussed what has been happening to ensure the physical wellbeing of these older citizens, along with how emotional support has been provided.
One of the city’s biggest concerns was making sure people in the 65+ category had stable access to food and other amenities by setting up delivery programs.
The Mayor began by showing some slides explaining statistics affecting the older citizens in the city.
One of the biggest is that 30.3% of 65+ people in Framingham live alone.
This pandemic is a scary time for everyone, but living alone makes facing everything that much harder.
To help emotionally support the elderly people of Framingham, the city collaborated with the Callahan Center and the public library staff to call over 8,000 older citizens to chat with them, ask if they needed anything, and just give them some social interaction to brighten their days.
Wong explained how cases among the elderly have decreased recently because they are the age group most concerned with keeping themselves safe whereas younger age groups, the 20s-50s, take up the majority of new cases the city is seeing.
Wong shared that during the first big surge of cases in Framingham, there were 80-90 new cases of COVID-19 every day, but now there are around 2 or 3 new cases a day. He made sure to enforce how this pandemic is by no means over and everyone needs to continue to follow the guidelines, but the city is in a better position now than we were before.
O’Donnell, Director of Elder Services and Council on Aging and Callahan Center, mainly discussed what the Callahan Center has been doing to provide citizens in need with help.
O’Donnell shared that from the beginning of the pandemic, the Callahan Center “mobilized our staff to reach out to all of the people who were in our database to make sure that they knew we were a resource for them, [and] that they could contact us to identify any particular needs that they had.”
The library staff also got involved and connected all of its members to make sure everyone knew they could reach out if they needed help.
Thankfully, out of everyone the Center reached, 96% let them know they were doing fine and had people who were helping them, said O’Donnell.
Out of the other 4% who expressed some type of need, the biggest need was surrounding food resources, she said.
The City responded by deploying teams of city employees to deliver food from pantries to families in need.
For anyone who feels they could benefit from help from the Callahan Center, their phone number is 508-532-5980.
Lastly, Dottin, the Chair of the Council on Aging, discussed how the Council created a subcommittee to specifically handle the issue that the pandemic causes Framingham’s older citizens.
After holding a meeting, this subcommittee submitted a report outlining some concerns the community had about the pandemic, mainly about how to stay safe, the isolations, traveling, and meeting with family members. The report was then delivered to the Mayor.
Lily Karofsky is a Framingham High student. She is a SOURCE intern for summer 2020.