City of Jacksonville checking up on hungry, lonely senior citizens

City calling seniors to ask about their needs, mental health

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some of Northeast Florida’s most at-risk residents are those who are the most forgotten.

Senior citizens are spending a lot of time in their homes to avoid catching the novel coronavirus. The change of lifestyle takes a physical and mental toll on those in isolation.

Now, the city of Jacksonville is calling them to check on their health and needs, and ramping up services as quarantine continues.

“I think everyone is afraid to get out, to be honest with you,” said Don Howell, a 71-year-old who lives in a senior living center with his wife.

Monday was a beautiful day to be outside, but most seniors spent it inside because of COVID-19.

“We are going stir crazy. My wife is about to kill me for coming out here right now, but I’ve got a surgical mask on and this (bandana), so I think I’m cool,” Howell said.

Others aren’t able to leave their homes, so Ricky Singleton visits his mother in her Pablo Towers apartment in Jacksonville Beach.

“She’s doing everything she supposed to do and then some,” said Singleton as he brought his mother food and toilet paper.

But not everyone is as fortunate to have a family member, caregiver or resources during the quarantine, so Jacksonville’s Senior Services Division is reaching out.

About 3,200 seniors in Duval County are getting robocalls and personal calls -- an audit to see how they’re doing in isolation and identify those most at risk of going hungry or without help.

The robocall asks, in part: “Do you have the food and supplies needed to have meals when you are hungry? Are you able to get groceries? Are you finding what you need in the grocery stores?”

The call then gives seniors a number to dial if they need assistance.

So far, about 50 seniors have called for help, according to Senior Services Division Chief Gloria Crawford. Ten stated they needed meals. Some are getting a warm meal, others a 14-day supply of food and a follow-up visit. Those with mental health concerns can call the Memorial Hospital hotline at 904-702-2552. The services are available through a partnership with the city and ElderSource for people 55 years and older.

“They deliver food to her, and during that time they check on her and make sure she’s OK when I’m not around,” Singleton said about organizations taking care of his mother and her neighbors.

In lonely and stressful times, it’s a service the city is trying to stay on top of, especially for those who aren’t out in public and seen in the community.

“A lot of people here need government assistance,” Howell said. “And I’m sure they’re probably hurting, a lot of people will be as far as food and everything. People are afraid to go to the store and we could use a little bit of help that way I think.”

If you or a loved one need help and you’re in Duval County, you can call 904-630-CITY (2489) and ask for assistance from the Senior Services Division. Seniors in surrounding counties can call their county administrators for similar services.

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