COVID-19 and impact on COAs and elders in the Hilltowns

Dear friends and readers of the newsletters from the Northern Hilltowns Councils on Aging,

We apologize for any delay that has occurred in the receipt of our newsletter. We had prepared our newsletters as usual, listing all of the events, activities and programs provided by the Councils on Aging, and were ready to go to the printer when the Governor declared a state of emergency and towns that are part of our Northern Hilltowns Consortium have closed public buildings. Rather than publish programming and invitations we have decided to redo the newsletters. Instead, we are providing important guidelines that are so important in minimizing the effects on older adults in our communities.

There is a shortage of disinfectants in stores and I have trouble driving long distances, how can I disinfect my home without a special product?

For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:

5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

How can I make my own hand sanitizer?

You can use rubbing alcohol: 2/3 cup alcohol with 1/3 cup of aloe vera lotion.

Is the need to keep social distance from others really necessary?

YES! Flatten the curve before it flattens you. It’s as important as washing hands frequently and correctly. Both precautions protect you, your family and friends. Many of us are already compromised by autoimmune diseases, chronic respiratory illnesses or other chronic diseases. Please remember it’s as important to dry your hands thoroughly as it is to wash correctly.


Highland Valley Elder Services Remains Open

Allan Quimet, the Executive Director Of Highland Valley Elder Services is staying in touch with all of the Councils on Aging and sent the following message:

Dear Directors,

I hope you are well during this challenging time. Please find a brief update regarding HVES programs and services in response to COVID-19. Programs and services may be reduced or delayed by our providers since we are in the people helping people business but we are not aware of any major disruption to services at this time. We have prioritized our most vulnerable consumers in the event of a worker shortage. I realize we are all trying to strike a balance of service delivery, socialization, and the need for social distancing/isolation. We are concerned about the unintended consequences to consumers and want to ensure we assist each other for their wellbeing.

To allow for maximum flexibility, we will begin to deliver individualized and portable meals to COAs who have meal sites. We will begin this process by Monday the 16th the latest. The meals will offer maximum flexibility for your unique community needs. Consumers may take them home or eat them at the community meal location. (Meals may come cold, frozen, or hot so they may require some preparation.) If you know of residents in your community, over 60, who become incapacitated by illness, please refer them to us for meals. We will initiate a three week meal delivery plan and add additional time if it becomes necessary.

Please contact our nutrition department regarding any community meal questions. Please contact or send referral to our information and referral department regarding home delivered meals or other service requests. If you have general questions feel free to contact me or anyone else at Highland Valley that may be of service to you or your community members. My best to you and your communities. I know we are a resilient bunch and support each other especially well during times like these.

Thank you,

Allan Ouimet, LICSW-MA, LCSW-CT
Executive Director

* There is a new open line at HVES: 586-2000 ext 211 for all information and questions about COVID-19


Staying in touch is important. Do not ride this out alone. If you need help, please reach out to friends, families or others. If you are feeling ill and wonder if you have the virus, please call your doctor first and remain in your home.

For more information about COVID-19, the following links are very helpful.

Massachusetts Information on the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19):

Governor Baker’s Press Releases re: COVID-19:

It’s our hope that you find this information helpful and that we all come out unscathed on the other end. We look forward to getting back to the regular kind of newsletters later.