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Keeping The COVID Plague At Bay: How California Is Protecting Older Veterans

Dr. Vito Imbasciani has been at war with viruses since he was 5.

Growing up near the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, he contracted polio in 1952 and couldn’t walk for two months. In medical school in Vermont 30 years later, he witnessed AIDS steal the lives of otherwise healthy gay men.

Now, Imbasciani, secretary of California’s Department of Veterans Affairs, and his staff are responsible for keeping the novel coronavirus away from the state’s eight veterans homes. California’s defenses are holding.

The explanation, many say, lies in CalVet’s intense preparation, quick response, attention to hygiene and leadership, starting with Imbasciani, a physician and retired colonel who not too many years ago could have been discharged from the military because he is gay.

“We created our own fortune,” Imbasciani said, looking to knock on wood.

Deaths are part of life in the state-run veterans homes. The

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Inside Meals On Wheels’ Struggle To Keep Older Americans Fed During A Pandemic

In the best of times, Meals on Wheels faces the herculean task of delivering 200 million meals annually to 2.4 million hungry and isolated older Americans.

But this is the time of the dreaded novel coronavirus.

With the pandemic bearing down, I wanted to get inside Meals on Wheels to see how it would gear up its services. After all, 79% of its existing clients are 75 or older. There would be more demand now that many more seniors — including those who probably never imagined they’d be stuck inside — are advised it is safest to remain housebound.

What I saw was that this agency, a mainstay in the lives of so many, was swamped. Its ideas of what was possible diminished by the hour, and it has had to improvise, sometimes successfully,

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