LTSS Newsletter—September 2020

Long-Term Services and Supports

Technical assistance for culturally competent care

September 2020

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LTSS Technical Assistance Center

Visit the online LTSS TA Center for videos, best practices, toolkits, a resource library, and a step-by-step planning roadmap.

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Wildfire Safety during COVID-19

Wildfire safety preparedness

Preparing for wildfires is especially vital for the health of elders, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A fact sheet from EPA offers guidance on how to prepare for a wildfire and what to do during a wildfire emergency.

Some of the recommendations include learning evacuation routes; buying fans or portable air cleaners; and stocking up on food, medication, and other essential items. During a wildfire, EPA recommends staying inside as much as possible, checking local air quality updates, and avoiding burning candles, using woodstoves, and broiling or frying food to boost indoor air quality.

Considerations during the pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some additional challenges to consider related to the public health impacts of wildfires.

Smoke from wildfires can increase risk of lung infections, including COVID-19. Additionally, symptoms of smoke exposure can be similar to those of COVID-19, making the cause hard to identify. A cough or sore throat could be a symptom of either issue. Fever, chills, body aches, and diarrhea are not related to smoke exposure and could indicate COVID-19 or another illness.

Emergency preparedness resources for Indian Country

For long-term care facilities, planning for emergencies is important to ensure residents’ safety and comfort. See the CMS report on tribal nursing home emergency preparedness to learn about the emergency planning approaches of five tribal nursing homes.

The National Tribal Emergency Management Council provides planning tools and information to support tribes in strengthening public safety efforts.

Planning for recovery after an emergency is also an important aspect of preparedness. See the National Indian Health Board’s recent webinar recording on recovery planning.

Native elder wearing a mask

Keep in mind that you should continue to take precautions related to the pandemic. For example, if you need to purchase fans, air cleaners, or air filters to help with indoor air quality, order online if possible.

Also, note that cloth masks do not block the harmful effects of smoke. Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about wildfire safety during the pandemic.

Managing arthritis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 4 adults live with arthritis in some form. Arthritis can affect people at any age and is common among elders.

While there is no known cure for arthritis, there are a variety of ways to help manage the effects it has on the body. The Arthritis Foundation website and the CDC website offer information on treatments, including medications and staying physically active. Additionally, Medical News Today’s article on arthritis provides an overview of how to use diet to help manage symptoms.

Cover of the NIHB Road Map for Indian Country publication

Brain health in Indian Country

The National Indian Health Board recently launched Brain Health for Tribal Nations, a new online resource for AI/AN communities. Many of the resources focus on supporting memory and mental processing to help combat dementia. The site also includes success stories, policy information, and notifications for upcoming events.

Benefits of multivitamin use

A recent Oregon State University study found that older adults who used multivitamin and mineral supplements reported overall better health and a faster recovery time from illnesses. As people age, they are more likely to have vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can weaken their immune systems. Study findings suggest that even a simple vitamin and mineral regimen can benefit overall health for elders, as long as the supplement they take contains zinc and vitamin C.

COVID-19 resources

Technical assistance for tribes

CDC’s Tribal Support Unit offers technical assistance to tribes and tribal partners to support them in planning for and responding to COVID-19. This tailored technical assistance includes considerations like protecting against illness in multi-generational households and upholding tradition while social distancing.

See the CDC Tribal Support Unit infographic for an overview of this effort.

A screenshot of the CDC Tribal Support Unit infographic

Resources for rural LTSS programs

To support long-term care providers in rural areas as they prepare for and respond to COVID-19, the Rural Health Information Hub has compiled a library of resources. These tools are designed to build capacity so facilities can manage possible surges in COVID-19 cases.

Caregiver’s corner

Caregiver respite during the pandemic

Cover of the report: Providing and Receiving Respite Care Safely during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Especially in Indian Country, most caregivers for elders and people with disabilities are family members who often live with the person they care for. Respite care is temporary caregiving from someone else so the primary caregiver can take a break.

Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 have made respite care difficult, due to quarantine considerations for respite care providers and those who need care.

The Administration for Community Living and the Access to Respite Care and Help National Respite Network and Resource Center developed guidance on respite care during the pandemic, which describes how to decide if it is safe to seek respite care and lists precautions to help keep everyone healthy during respite care. The guidance also includes considerations for respite care providers on adapting to the impacts of the pandemic.

Upcoming webinar

LTSS webinar

Wednesday, September 23

More information on the September LTSS webinar is coming soon in a separate email. This information will also be posted to the LTSS TA Center as soon as it is available.

LTSS webinars share information and tools for tribal LTSS programs, with topics ranging from financing to elder abuse prevention to culturally appropriate dementia care.

Please note your location’s call in time:

8 a.m. Hawaii
10 a.m. Alaska
11 a.m. Pacific
11 a.m. Arizona
12 p.m. Mountain
1 p.m. Central
2 p.m. Eastern

Upcoming Event

National Native Harm Reduction Virtual Summit

September 22–24
Register for the Native Harm Reduction Virtual Summit

9th Annual National Native Harm Reduction Summit. September 22-24, 2020. Sharing our knowledge and healing together. Addressing substance use, harm reduction, HIV, viral hepatitis, TB, STIs, and overdose.

Join the virtual 9th Annual National Native Harm Reduction Summit. The summit covers harm reduction, infectious disease, opioids, culture, and recovery and resilience.

People who registered for the original May date do not need to re-register. However, if you would like to cancel your registration, please email

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Join the conversation on LinkedIn

Want to learn more about or discuss LTSS in Indian Country? Looking to connect with others working in the same field? Join the Tribal Affairs Group on LinkedIn. If you are a member of the group already, you can access it by clicking the group name under Groups on the left side of your LinkedIn landing page.
About the TA Center

The LTSS Technical Assistance Center provides a roadmap for American Indian and Alaska Native communities who are planning and implementing LTSS programs to care for their elders and people with disabilities.

About the Newsletter

Long-Term Services and Supports Solutions is published monthly by the CMS Division of Tribal Affairs to share information, funding opportunities, and resources with LTSS planners, tribal leaders, and supporters.

Send Us Your News

Do you have news to share about LTSS in Indian Country? Send it to, and we’ll include it in a newsletter. Contact us with other comments or feedback, too.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Indian Health Service Administration for Community Living