Our elderly brethren are not only particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, they are also frontline supporters of children in child welfare. Nationally, over 2.9 million grandparents have seen their retirement swerve unexpectedly back toward raising children. Over 48,000 Colorado grandparents are primary caregivers for their grandchildren, a number that grows as Colorado’s opioid epidemic persists.
Yes, we lean on grandparents all across the country and that poses real challenges today as COVID-19 spreads.
As Heather Blanchard, one of Tennyson’s amazing supervisors for in-home support tells us, the Tennyson team is responding in powerful ways to ensure these families, and elderly caregivers in particular, are supported anew:
“New challenges have emerged with elderly caregivers. This is a particularly relevant issue right now because of the vulnerability of this population as well as their inability to access and utilize technology as easily.
My team has been working very hard to set them up for success.
One case in particular is a girl who is under 10 years old living with her 80+ year old grandmother in a senior living facility.
As you can imagine, this is a challenging situation even in ’normal’ times.
A Tennyson clinician spent three hours with the grandmother on Friday setting up her phone to be able to access Telehealth and teaching her how to use the technology. The clinician is now checking in with her three times a day or more to assist her with the client’s behaviors and keep her regulated. The clinician is also coordinating with the grandmother’s doctor to help monitor her symptoms as grandmother has difficulty tracking her own health.
This is critical because there are no other caregivers available for the young girl if grandmother were to get sick and staying with her family — despite the challenges — is best for her healing.”
Social workers and clinicians are on the COVID-19 frontlines, thankfully.