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As WI Economy Reopens, Isolation Concerns Persist for Seniors

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MILWAUKEE - Whether by court decisions or expiring stay-at-home orders, Wisconsin residents are seeing more business restrictions ease as the pandemic continues.

A leading nonprofit group hopes that, as people leave their homes more frequently, they don't forget about older loved ones and neighbors.

Jim Flaherty, communications director for AARP Wisconsin, says isolation has been a big concern for people in the older high-risk age group, as they were being asked to stay home - often, with not much outside help. That prompted a wave of volunteers to assist with errands and well-being checks.

Flaherty fears all that care and concern could diminish as the state's economy opens up. "We really are encouraging loved ones and neighbors, and friends and family, to continue to engage with the folks who are a little bit older and check on them," says Flaherty. "Bring them food. Ring their doorbell. Have a chat with them." For seniors who plan to venture out to businesses and other places, Flaherty says they're encouraged to go during off-peak hours, avoid anyplace with large crowds, wear a mask and practice social distancing. Social isolation among older Americans was a concern even before the new coronavirus crisis.

Flaherty says COVID-19 has been just another layer added to the problem. "This isn't just about the pandemic," says Flaherty. "This is about making sure that folks maintain their mental health and their connections to loved ones, throughout the pandemic." He says the group is still facilitating extra help and signing up volunteers in local areas.

More details can be found online at 'AARPCommunityConnections.org.'

Mike Moen is the Morning Edition producer and serves as a staff reporter for WNIJ. Every morning, he works with Dan Klefstad to bring listeners the latest Illinois news. He also works with the rest of the news staff on developing and producing in-depth stories. Mike is a Minnesota native who likes movies, history, and baseball. When most people hear his last name, they assume he is 100-percent Scandinavian. But, believe it or not, he is mostly German.
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