COVID-19’s impact on the elderly

As coronavirus swept across the world, protecting the elderly and immunocompromised was one of the top priorities. In the United States, many nursing homes and long term care facilities began limiting resident contact with visitors during the week of March eighth. On Friday, March 13, following the declaration of a national emergency, all visiting in the 2.5 million nursing and long term care homes was stopped until further notice in an attempt to protect the residents and health care workers. 

Despite the precautions, on April 27, 12,000 people in nursing homes across the nation had passed away due to the coronavirus. Health care workers continue to provide the best care they are able to but many homes feel they are inadequately supplied. Without the steady stream of visitors to interact with the residents, many are alone for the vast majority of the day and feel confused and alone. 

Independent living facilities for the elderly are also facing these precautions. Rather than eating meals in community dining rooms and partaking in daily activities, residents are confined to their room for the entire day. They too are not able to be visited by family and friends and can not even see their neighbors across the hall. This sudden shift in their lifestyle is jarring for many individuals and they face fear and loneliness. 

Family and friends are looking for any way to visit their loved ones and many have shown their love in creative ways. FaceTime has become increasingly popular as nurses can schedule calls from residents to those who would be visiting. Others with loved ones residing on ground floors of these homes and hospitals have taken to sitting outside their window or bringing signs displaying their love and well wishes. Although nothing can replace physically being together, hearing each other’s voices and seeing each other’s faces can bring joy to many residents who spend their days mostly alone. 

Families within driving distance of elderly grandparents have taken to visiting from driveways or outside of windows. This can bring comfort and joy to many who are fearful of the current situation or are unable to leave their homes. 

Following the guidelines enacted by local governments is the best way to work towards a quicker return to a normal routine of life. Reaching out to a grandparent, elderly neighbor, or anyone else who may be alone during this time is a great way to bring comfort and a sense of community during social distancing. 

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