COVID Loneliness Is Taking A Toll On Seniors
The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking unprecedented havoc across the globe. Major illness, job losses, struggling economies and the loss of family and friends has created an agonizing situation. Sadly, another side effect of the pandemic is a growing mental health crisis, particularly among seniors and especially among those who struggle with dementia. Learn more about the important role of human connections and interactions for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
The Isolation is Real
Never before has there been the necessity to remain at home and stay physically distanced from people like there is right now. Seniors who are no longer able to attend their place of worship, stop in at the local library, meet a friend at a coffee shop, participate in an exercise class or even just take public transportation, are feeling more isolated than ever. A recent article in USA Today referenced federal data suggesting that the reduced interactions and isolation resulting from the pandemic likely contributed to more than 13,000 additional dementia deaths during this time.
Loneliness and Dementia
Seniors are at an increased risk for loneliness and social isolation, particularly those who have lost family or friends, live alone or have hearing loss. Loneliness can impact people physically, as well as socially and emotionally. For example, researchers believe that loneliness may exacerbate cognitive decline in dementia patients. Loneliness can result in depression, poor sleep, reduced physical activity and increased blood pressure, all of which can increase the buildup of certain proteins in the brain. Loneliness also creates stress which can lead to increased inflammation, thought to be a contributor to dementia. Simply put, social interactions and human connections are essential in order to keep the brain stimulated.
Staying Home is Not a Sustainable Solution
Some people disagree with masking and social distancing, arguing that seniors or other at-risk individuals should just “stay home” (like the example cited in the USA Today article). There have also been instances of seniors facing stigma and ageism as they venture out for essential activities, like grocery shopping or banking. In an article published by the National Institute of Health, the authors assert that marginalization of seniors during the pandemic has created an “invisible human rights crisis”.
Inoculate Against Loneliness
People of all ages have the right to live a socially active, engaging life. During the course of the pandemic, many cities and states have been forced to eliminate or severely limit audience or customer capacities for restaurants, movie theaters, museums, gyms, shops, banks, etc. due to exponentially rising infection rates. Even public parks and other outdoor venues can be unsafe if people do not observe masking and social distancing protocols. The USA Today article author urges everyone to “inoculate elders against the toll of loneliness” by safeguarding our public spaces. The idea is that every single person plays a vital role in helping to keep public spaces safe for seniors, many of whom rely on these places for much-needed social interaction. Here are some steps you can take to help:
- Do not go out if you are experiencing a fever, cough or shortness of breath.
- Wear your mask anytime you are outside of your home, including outdoors.
- Be sure your mask fits snugly and covers your nose and mouth.
- Observe social distancing protocols - stay at least six feet away from others and avoid crowds.
- Avoid poorly ventilated spaces. Open a window or door if you find yourself in a closed space.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Finding the Safest Place to Shelter
A senior living community can be the safest place to live during a pandemic. Senior living communities such as Daylesford Crossing follow rigorous disinfecting regimes and COVID-19 Universal Testing protocols for residents and staff. Resident healthcare needs are coordinated and administered by experienced and trained professionals who understand the risks of isolation and loneliness. Daylesford Crossing offers dedicated, screened visitation to help maintain important family connections, as well as communal dining and social distanced activities. Residents and staff are receiving the COVID-19 vaccination in the earliest phase of the distribution.
At Daylesford Crossing, the health and safety of our residents is our highest priority and that includes new residents. Anyone who moves in after our first dose vaccination clinic will be able to get their first dose of the vaccine at the second clinic. A third clinic will be available for their second dose. The Daylesford Crossing team supports residents and their families in making a hassle-free move. Contact us today to learn about our special rate incentives and to schedule an in-person or virtual tour of available apartments.