Members of Lancaster Downtowners, an organization for Lancaster city senior citizens, gathers at Central Market in the days before Covid-19.
Members of Lancaster Downtowners, an organization for Lancaster city senior citizens, gathers at Central Market in the days before Covid-19.

How are Lancaster County's senior citizens dealing with the Covid-19 crisis? What more can local agencies be doing to help them?

To answer those questions, a recently formed task force is sending out a survey aimed at people age 60 and up. It's intended to alert providers to emerging needs and help them concentrate resources where they're most needed.

"This is about thinking ahead," said Kevin Ressler, president and CEO of the United Way of Lancaster County, one of the task force's member organizations.

Other participants include the county Office of Aging, Meals on Wheels and Age Friendly Lancaster City.

The survey can be filled out online. Here are the links:

English versionSpanish version

It asks about shelter, household finance, transportation and use of social services. Partner agencies are distributing copies.

For the Office of Aging, "the timing just couldn't be better," executive Lon Wible said. Its four-year stragegic plan wraps up this fall, so, besides guiding Covid-19 efforts, the survey will provide valuable data for the next strategic plan, which will run through 2024.

The office wants to make sure it's doing everything it can, especially for vulnerable and underserved populations, Wible said.

Agencies had to adjust quickly this spring when Gov. Tom Wolf announced Lancaster County's stay-at-home order. There is concern about a possible Covid-19 resurgence this fall; if that happens, "we want to make sure we're prepared this time," Ressler said.

More than 20% of Lancaster County residents are age 60 and up, according to U.S. Census data. People in their 60s may not consider themselves "old," Ressler noted, but they're still at higher risk from Covid-19, accounting for 8% of county fatalities attributed to the virus. The risk increases with age: 90% of local Covid-19 deaths are individuals age 70 and up.

Though the survey is directed to senior citizens, others are welcome to respond, Wible said. Input from family, friends, caregivers and so on will help to paint as complete a picture as possible and show what's needed, he said.

Tim Stuhldreher

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