As we age, options to sustain quality of life lessen. Bodily functions become difficult to control, mobility diminishes, senses can be dulled, while some of us may have inherited poor genes. All of which might force us to be homebound.
Yet, older adults still persevere and take prescribed medication, try to eat healthy, suffer through minimal exercise, and make sure ample deodorant and perfume are applied. Home is where seniors still hope to enjoy their favorite TV shows, occasionally have a delicious meal, and cherish visits from grandkids.
In our present medical environment, health care has forgotten those who are homebound. Doctors rarely make house calls, medical services are limited and costly, and patients are forced the almost impossible task spending long hours being transferred to the doctor’s office for medical care.
When the pandemic hit, we heard the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, public health departments and doctors encourage the need to receive a protective vaccination. “Go to Dodger Stadium, queue up at the local clinic, or visit your senior center” was their recommendation. All of us could get shots… except the homebound.
Two years ago with ambitious foresight, Los Angeles County developed an in-home vaccination program where health care professionals would bring homebound patients the vaccine others were receiving. Revved up by the Board of Supervisors, this was salvation for those battling the scourge of getting old.
Time is already against those who might be aging, but in the two years since the vaccination program started, statistics revealed a disappointing number (less than 10,000) in-home injections in L.A. County.
Unfortunately, the number of those who did not receive a shot because they were homebound was a statistic not kept by Public Health or hospitals. It seems once you get to a homebound age, these individuals become forgotten even though they might still want to have a delicious meal and visits from grandkids.
The media was filled with the barrage of “get your vaccination!” But most caregivers and elder homebound patients did not know about the in-home vaccine program. That is why a grassroots community organization was formed known as COMIT, Coalition for Mobile In-home Testing, to get the word and phone number out to the public.
COMIT has meet with L.A. County officials to augment the flow of information and statistics, and not surprisingly, they listened! You now see newspaper and TV ads, billboards, flyers, and even voting pamphlets with the toll-free phone number (1-833-540-0473).
COMIT and most health care professionals expect a surge in COVID cases during winter months, and hope the effect on the vulnerable will lessen.
With efforts of a grassroots community coalition and L.A. County government working together, we can impact negative statistics so older adults can sustain quality of life while not allowing the homebound to be forgotten.
Dr. Gene Dorio