Recovering, physically and mentally, during a pandemic

July 8, 2020

Alan had been retired for almost 20 years and never slowed down.

He was always healthy and independent, wrote and mailed checks to pay his bills, drove to the store to buy whatever he needed, and took regular walks for exercise (and to get out of his house). Since retiring, he never had to worry about money since he made sure to meticulously save and prepare for his later life.

However, after 20 years, he was having financial problems. It was not due to bad spending; he just lived longer than he anticipated and his savings were running out.

He’s not the only one. Studies presented by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) said that nearly half of Americans will outlive their assets. The combination of people living longer, the 2008 economic crash hitting retirement accounts, and seniors needing to use credit cards for some basic needs has created a world where those 75 and older are financially struggling.

Alan, unfortunately, became one of those struggling seniors. Eventually, he realized that he could no longer afford his home. He also wasn’t sure if he could afford to buy a smaller home, even if he sold his current one, and he did not want to go into a nursing home. After talking with some friends, he was told to look into living at one of the Seton Square Senior properties. These units are affordable housing communities for people who qualify and are each staffed with a service coordinator from Catholic Social Services (CSS). The coordinator assists property residents with whatever challenges they are facing such as medical issues, tax laws or benefits, or technological hurdles.

Alan was introduced to the coordinator from his building, but he politely mentioned that he did not need any help. It was not long before his world would be turned upside down and the CSS Seton Service Coordinator would be there in his time of need.

After suffering a stroke, Alan returned from the hospital to his apartment and was surrounded by his children, who were trying to figure out what to do next. They lived in different parts of the country, and somehow, they needed to coordinate his rehabilitation appointments and balance his other life priorities before returning to their homes. His children came to see him but knew that they could not stay forever. He could no longer write his checks, could barely talk, and it would be a long time before he was walking anywhere again.

It was at that moment that Alan’s phone rang and his son answered it. On the other end was the Seton service coordinator for his apartment building who began explaining what services CSS could coordinate and how they could help their father. The timing could not have been better.

The service coordinator got Alan set up with Meals on Wheels, had his medications delivered, and arranged for home health aides to come to assist him. CSS helped coordinate a service to take over paying his bills, and they even showed him how to pay his bills and manage his money online. He was slowly healing and adjusting to the “new normal,” post-stroke life, even occasionally going outside again. Then something else happened: COVID-19.

Now, Alan could not leave his home for fear of contracting the virus, and he could not have the small moments of interaction he had with people who stopped over to help him. He was feeling alone and isolated until his phone rang. Again, it was the service coordinator calling to check on him.

The coordinator explained what CSS was doing to make sure he was still taken care of while maintaining everyone’s safety. The coordinator explained the steps that were being taken by everyone who would enter into his apartment, and even safely delivered cleaning supplies that he might need. The coordinator would call him just to catch up and make sure that while he was stuck inside of his apartment, he never felt alone.

As his health continues to improve, he looks forward to the day that he can go outside again. Plus, he also rests easy knowing that if something goes wrong again, he has someone to whom he can turn for help.

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