As COVID-19 infections continue to rise, healthcare stakeholders are evaluating best practices to maintain the health of Americans while reducing the impact of the coronavirus. It’s known that the virus more severely impacts older adults and other vulnerable members of society, therefore the WHO, CDC and other government officials have all urged seniors to remain in place and practice social distancing.
Social distancing is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect vulnerable individuals. However, with this necessary measure, seniors are becoming more isolated, and many lack appropriate support systems at home. While it may be more difficult to engage seniors in healthy behaviors when they can’t leave their homes, it is a challenge that we must all embrace to ensure that safe at home also means healthy at home for the 65+ population.
At Tivity Health, we’ve prioritized delivering our nutrition offerings to vulnerable older adults, utilizing the supply chain distribution ability of our nutrition solutions to meet the needs of seniors.
Physical Activity – Interactive and Accessible
With the temporary closure of most fitness locations and social distancing guidelines, traditional avenues of physical activity are limited or no longer available. However, physical activity has never been more important. A recent study from a researcher at the University of Virginia found that exercise can prevent or reduce the severity of acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS), a major cause of death in patients with COVID-19. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways for seniors to maintain their fitness.
Many fitness programs and instructors are offering online workouts and even remote access to trainers. We’ve previously discussed the effectiveness of digital fitness programming, but it can prove to be an essential tool during this crisis.
SilverSneakers® has expanded digital offerings to ensure that older adults are able to maintain fitness at home. Throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, SilverSneakers is encouraging members to participate in SilverSneakers On-Demand programming, a digital library of more than 200 video workouts, and in virtual classes offered live online.
The workouts are designed with a home experience in mind, utilizing minimal equipment, and can be done with limited space. Along with the On-Demand programming, SilverSneakers instructors are leading Facebook Live broadcasts of SilverSneakers workouts, providing an at-home workout experience with a live instructor. Since classes launched March 23rd, more than 1.43 million viewers have joined the Facebook live class, with more than 9,000 shares. After each live class, we post the video so that people can participate at their convenience, or repeat classes that they enjoy.
The goal is to provide an interactive experience for members and enable them to maintain physical activity. The accessibility and convenience are key aspects of the experience, and with solutions like these, we support our health plan partners by engaging members in fitness solutions throughout the crisis.
Nutrition – Convenience is Key
Diet is especially important for older adults during this crisis, as its one of the easiest modifiable behaviors to improve health and wellness. There is an abundance of data explaining the impact of diet on a person’s well-being, and it’s important to make healthy food the easy choice for seniors.
Many seniors lack access to healthy foods, and the fear of contracting COVID-19 discourages others from going to grocery stores and has disrupted many community-based senior meal programs. Many retailers have elected to offer special hours exclusively for older adults, helping them avoid large crowds. The generosity of these companies is a great idea but leaves seniors risk of infection regardless.
One way to avoid unnecessary exposure and minimize the risk of infection is to deliver nutritious meals directly to the homes of older adults.
This is a priority for lawmakers, identified in the two recently passed stimulus packages for coronavirus relief. In H.R. 6201, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” the Older Americans Act was supported with $160 million dedicated to home-delivered nutrition. The third bill to pass, H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” provided $480 million for senior nutrition services, and lessens nutrition restrictions for Older American Act meal programs, ensuring seniors can receive meals in the event certain food options are not available.
At Tivity Health, we’ve prioritized delivering our nutrition offerings to vulnerable older adults, utilizing the supply chain distribution ability of our nutrition solutions to meet the needs of seniors. We’re partnering with health plans, government organizations and community groups to identify needs and provide support. Through our Nutrisystem, South Beach Diet and Wisely Well products and our national distribution capabilities, we have nutritionally balanced meals and snacks available that can be shipped directly to seniors in need or to community organizations experiencing a shortage of fresh food.
We recently were contacted by the Valley AAA in Flint, Michigan, and shipped 5,000 meals to ensure that they can continue to serve their population.
Minimize the Impact of “Social Distance”
For the past few years, we’ve partnered with health plans and other organizations to address social isolation and loneliness and the impact they have on older adults. With mandated social distancing, our seniors are discouraged from direct physical contact with the community at large. However, that doesn’t mean that these individuals don’t need social engagement during this time. We must think of this less as “Social Distancing,” but more as “Physical Distancing,” and continue to increase awareness of the importance of engaging socially with those seniors who can’t leave their homes during this crisis.
We must think of this less as “Social Distancing,” but more as “Physical Distancing,” and continue to increase awareness of the importance of engaging socially with those seniors who can’t leave their homes during this crisis.
At Tivity Health, we have prioritized helping our members stay healthy and well while remaining at home. We have millions of members who are active at a fitness center or class within our network, and it’s crucial that these members remain connected to the program.
There is no question that the safest place for older adults right now is in their homes. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t continue to engage in healthy behaviors that will enable them to return to their active lives when this crisis passes.
At Tivity Health, we understand the needs of seniors and we care for older adults.
Our brands and programming are evolving to better meet their needs during this crisis.
Contact us today.