As 2020 comes to a close, there are still many questions surrounding COVID-19. Communities have seesawed between loosening and tightening social restrictions as instances of infection have dictated. And while everyone has been on the lookout for some sort of consistency, it's been difficult to determine what the "new normal" will entail.
However, one of the biggest concerns regarding social distancing has been its effects on metal health. While keeping ourselves isolated from others has helped curb infections, the long-term consequences of limiting human interaction is a problematic one, especially when it comes to the elderly population.
One is the Loneliest Number
Studies have already begun examining the challenges isolation poses on seniors. Because this particular demographic relies more heavily on out-of-home social contact, these individuals could find themselves disproportionately affected.
Without access to regular outlets for communicating and connecting with others, such as community centres or places of worship, seniors may experience higher rates of loneliness and/or depression. Furthermore, when considering care facilities such as nursing homes, visits from close family and friends play a huge part in ensuring seniors stay healthy and connected.
Therefore, it's up to society, as always, to see that changes are implemented safely and compassionately. The more that communities can do to empower their older population to gain access to and adopt technology as a channel for meaningful connection, the more they can do to improve quality of life. As countries everywhere try to navigate this difficult and precarious situation, it's important those most vulnerable are protected and supported.
How Can You Help?
Take the time to consider those who may not have as many options to stay social.
- Call seniors you know more frequently
- If possible, utilize online technologies for games
- Send hand-written letters to add a more personal touch
- Coordinate with care staff in nursing homes to arrange virtual visits
- Introduce viewing parties to enjoy movies/shows together
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- The NWL Team