Aging Well

ASK AGING WELL: What are the most relevant details about Phase 1 for seniors?

There are many questions about what exactly Phase 1 means for seniors. Here are the answers.

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Ask Aging Well
Liisa Ogburn
Phase 1, which went into effect on May 8 at 5 pm, loosens some of the restrictions put in place due to the global pandemic, however, as Kristen, the Executive Director of Resources for Seniors, said “the big message for older adults is that all the way through Phase III, vulnerable populations are still recommended to stay at home! In Phase III, the recommendation is for vulnerable people to stay at home OR avoid large crowds.”

Here are answers to a number of other questions that have come in from seniors:

  1. Will grocery stores still offer senior shopping hours?
In most cases, yes through Phase II. If there is any doubt, check the company website or call the particular shop before going.
  • Will seniors be required to wear masks when going shopping?
  • NC does not require masks, but strongly recommends it. It is useful to know that some stores that did not require masks previously, now that Phase 1 has started, do and will bar entrance unless you have one. (Costco, Weaver Street, list others)
  • Where can I get a mask?
  • There are increasingly more masks available at pharmacies and some grocery stores. (I found masks at Walgreen’s and Harris Teeter yesterday.) Some churches and neighborhood groups are hand-making hundreds of reusable cloth masks to provide for free. In fact, this Friday from 1:30 to 3:30, the Hispanic Family Center at 2013 Raleigh Boulevard in Raleigh will be distributing free masks to anyone who comes by. There are also options now available via Amazon vendors.
  • Are there still shortages of items in the grocery stores?
  • It depends on the item, day and time of day you shop. The short answer is yes you will still most likely have trouble with some of the most in-demand items or if in stock, limits on how many you can purchase (like paper towels, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, etc.).
  • Can family members visit loved ones in Assisted Living, Memory Care or Skilled Nursing?
  • The short answer is no, not until Phase III and even then, there will likely be additional precautions and limitations in place. That said, for Mother’s Day, some communities brought residents outside, where they could wave to visitors driving slowly by.
  • Is it safe to go to my doctor’s office?
  • Call your physician and ask them directly. They will weigh the need versus the risks. Many provide phone or video visits, also called “telehealth,” which is covered by Medicare. (To read more about this, visit my earlier post.)
  • What if I don’t have the technology for a virtual visit or, if I do, I don’t I know how to use it?
  • Resources for Seniors have a group of honor roll high school students working with our team at the Northern Wake Senior Center. They are working with older adults over the phone and through facetime/virtually to help talk people through their options. Though not ideal, Resources for Seniors has even had a few seniors without a smart phone come to their office for virtual health visits.
  • What if my loved one needs to go to the Emergency Room?
  • The amount of people coming to the ER has increased in the last week, though those visits are not necessarily due to COVID-19. As before, no family can accompany their loved one into the ER or visit them if they are admitted to the hospital—except under certain compassionate care situations. That said, the ER will take your phone number and attempt to call you as soon as they have any information to share.
    Finally, it bears repeating that Resources for Seniors has a team of Information/Referral Specialists who spend all day talking to the public, problem-solving and sharing resources for this region. Their number is 919-872-7933. If they can’t answer your questions themselves, they may have the phone number of a resource who can. For questions outside this area or anywhere in the state, call 2-1-1.


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