COVID-19 Isolation Creates Greater Stress For The Elderly And Care Givers
Isolation and loneliness has historically been a concern for older adults in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Visits from family members and friends are often rare and too short-lived for the resident. But now, with COVID-19 making it impossible for families and relatives to visit at all, the isolation seniors are experiencing is devastating.
In many cases couples are being kept apart when one spouse is residing in a nursing home and the other lives in the home the two shared together. The healthy spouse is often accustomed to spending long hours with their spouse – so often the case with Alzheimer’s patients. The stress becomes even greater for the spouse who can no longer visit and spend time with his or her lifetime mate.
Additionally COVID-19 has put a halt to group meal sites, exercise and social activities, along with a host of other engaging activities. Among those are volunteer commitments. Volunteers can no longer enter the facilities, so social workers and on-site caregivers are carrying the extra burden. Many of the elderly cannot go out for a walk on their own so they are confined to their room and often simply to their bed.
In so many instances where Social workers serving the populations that are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, they have become more creative and resourceful in staying connected to their older adult clients, patients, friends, and families and supporting their efforts to stay connected with others. It is important make every effort to soothe the loneliness, social isolation, and anxiety our elders experience. Fortunately we have technology too that has been incorporated in many facilities allowing video meetings with family members and friends.
Examples Of Creative Solutions To Isolation And Loneliness
An example of some out-of-the-box creative thinking comes from a nursing home in the U.K. that “has started a campaign that allows people around the world to “adopt” their residents.” According to the article at msn.com, “The “Adopt a Grandparent” campaign, as it’s being called, is the brainchild of CHD Living, a nursing home company with 13 locations near London. They’re inviting English-speakers from across the world to apply online to become virtual volunteers, engaging with their assigned “grandparents” through regular video calls — building companionship and keeping them mentally stimulated. Pairings between volunteers and residents are made based on mutual interests.”
Those of us going through this pandemic who are younger, healthier and accustomed to going where we want, when we want are being challenged greatly too. But imagine if you were completely isolated from family and friends and you weren’t at your hale-and-hearty best. This is our senior population, our parents and grandparents, our great grandparents. In some cases our family member may be younger with early onset Alzheimer’s. It’s important to remember that this segment of the population is experiencing greater levels of stress, as are their resident caregivers. Let’s help in whatever way we can.
Kudos to all the social workers and caregivers in the nursing homes and assisted living facilities. You are caring for our dearest and most vulnerable population.