The Next “New Normal”: Strategies for Elders Navigating the Impacts of COVID

Tuesday, June 29th 2021

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

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Older adults living with chronic health conditions have been uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing the highest rates of severe COVID-19 cases while also facing the effects of prolonged isolation and loneliness. For older adults living with HIV, the pandemic has weakened social support networks, disrupted services for mental health, and created new barriers to care. With progress now being made with vaccinations and loosening restrictions, many older adults face the prospects of having to rebuild their support networks and cope with the grief and trauma of the past 15 months, while still navigating the uncertainty that surrounds the future of this virus.

This workshop will address the current phase of the pandemic and the next “new normal” we are approaching. We will discuss strategies for safely re-engaging with society, including setting boundaries for what we are comfortable with and interacting with people with a different vaccine status than us. Presenters will focus on caring for our mental health, particularly for older adults living with HIV who are experiencing isolation or grief from the pandemic. The presentation will address ways to reestablish important relationships, rebuild support networks, and connect with mental health resources. We will also explore the ways that socioeconomic status, racial inequities, and the digital divide impact how we navigate services in a post-COVID society.


  1. Understand the social, emotional, and mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the ways that age, race, HIV status, and socioeconomic status have affected experiences with COVID and its mental health impacts.
  2. Learn about mental health resources that can help individuals to process the effects of grief and prolonged isolation, including resources for lower-income older adults and individuals without reliable access to technology.
  3. Gain strategies for safely re-engaging with social supports and strengthening support networks that may have been weakened during the pandemic.
  4. Reflect on the ways that they will care for their physical, social, and emotional wellness while navigating the adjustment into this next phase of COVID-19.

M Tramos Tyler Ramos, LSW/LCSW, MTR Therapy

Michael Tyler Ramos is the founder and CEO of MTR Therapy. His therapeutic approach includes trauma-focused, psychodynamic, relational and harm reduction as well as motivational interviewing, solution focusing and family systems therapy. He obtained his MSW from the NYU Silver School of Social Work

S MathewSuja Mathew, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services (DBHIDS)

Suja Mathew (she/her/hers) is a South Asian Indian American, a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) communities, a person with lived experience, and an advocate for marginalized populations. Her work experience spans over 20 years in the behavioral health field in various capacities; currently Operations Manager for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team at the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services (DBHIDS).

Michael ByrneMichael Byrne Jewish Family and Children Services

Michael Byrne is a licensed Social Worker providing one-on-one individual psychodynamic & DBT supported therapy to older adults at Jewish Family and Children Services. He graduated from Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, where he was President of the Graduate Student Association and received the Keven J. Robinson Award for service. Michael is honored to serve as President of the Board of Philly AIDS Thrift, on the Advisory Committee for the Elder Initiative at William Way, and is a facilitator at their monthly Thrivers discussion group for individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Keith Carter Elder Initiative @ William Way

Keith Carter is a community advocate and a long-term survivor of HIV. He serves on the Elder Initiative’s HIV & Aging Community Advisory Committee, the Philadelphia HIV Integrated Planning Council, and the Community Advisory Board of the Penn Center for AIDS Research.

Location Details

Virtual Event

Spotlight On

Karam Mounzer, MD

Dr. Mounzer identified two major gaps in the care of patients with HIV/hepatitis C (HCV) co-infection, and the complexity of multidrug-resistant HIV treatment. He is involved with many clinical trials focusing on drug development and better understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis with the Wistar Institute. He is involved in teaching and mentoring.

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Dr. Karam Mounzer

Dr. Mario Cruz

Dr. Mario CruzDr. Cruz is a board certified pediatrician who serves as the Medical Director for our Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center. He has presented and/or published in the fields of community violence and domestic violence prevention, quality improvement, behavioral health, curriculum development and mentorship. In 2019 he received the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for Innovations in Healthcare.

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