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STATEMENT BY LISA MARSH RYERSON, PRESIDENT, AARP FOUNDATION ON CORONAVIRUS

Although our lives have changed dramatically in the last few days, one thing hasn’t changed: our commitment at AARP Foundation to bring about a world without senior poverty, where no older person feels vulnerable. Our mission, to help older adults increase their economic opportunity and social connectedness, has always been important, but never more so than in these difficult times.

We know that the coronavirus pandemic poses a grave danger to older adults, especially those who are already struggling with other challenges to their health, well-being and financial security. In all the temporary measures we are taking to adjust to rapidly changing developments, the health and welfare of our program participants, our volunteers and our own staff remain uppermost in our thinking.

You will see elsewhere on this page important information about the status of all our programs. We will be updating this information as circumstances dictate, and on a regular basis every week.

To all of our program participants, I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to continue providing you with the services you expect, and that we will resume all normal operations as soon as conditions allow. In the meantime, we are working to develop online and virtual alternatives to the existing forms of some programs. I also encourage you to familiarize yourself with our programs that are already fully virtual, for needed help they may be able to provide. Several of our newest programs focus on helping you build and maintain financial resilience, with resources and tools that should prove especially valuable as we all navigate the economic uncertainties the coronavirus has brought with it.

As physical distancing temporarily becomes the norm and social isolation increases, let me particularly call your attention to AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect platform, which provides information, resources and strategies to help increase social connection. We must not let physical distancing lead to social disconnection, so I encourage you to do whatever you can to keep connections alive. No virus can stop us from checking in on our loved ones or our neighbors by phone, text or video chat, for example. And there are many other things you can do. Please check on the resources we provide on our website under the “Giving” tab above for ideas about how you can help.

Those of us who have the resources to deal with the circumstances we are all now facing have so much to be grateful for. As the president of AARP Foundation, I am particularly grateful to all of our donors. Your ongoing generosity is the lifeblood of everything we do. Thank you so much.

As an organization dedicated to ending senior poverty, we are there to help with the everyday catastrophes that haunt the lives of far too many older adults. We will continue to be there for the less commonplace catastrophes that can tip the scales for those living in or on the brink of poverty — whether it’s a devastating hurricane or a life-altering global pandemic.

Human connection binds us together as societies, and it holds us together in our individual lives as well. We can get through these challenging times by coming together as communities, even if that means in a virtual sense.

Stay safe, stay connected, and look out for vulnerable older adults.

 

With gratitude,

Lisa Marsh Ryerson
President, AARP Foundation

 

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