All around the world, the impacts of the recent pandemic, both immediate and repercussive, cannot be overstated. Deaths, economic downturns and job losses are just a few of the struggles that we as global citizens will have to grapple with in a post COVID-19 world. That being said, there are certain populations who are affected by the pandemic more than others.
The most vulnerable
It’s obvious that the elderly have been much more vulnerable to the physical effects of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the only effects we should be concerned about are physical. As people all around the world are learning, being stuck at home can affect one’s mental, emotional and physical health as well. In addition, COVID-19 has also highlighted a glaring weakness in healthcare practices for the elderly, in that existing homecare was difficult to afford and obtain before the pandemic, but is even more complicated to obtain in the current climate.
New levels of isolation
As a population, the elderly and the pre-pandemic homebound were already isolated. For instance, an 85-year-old woman might rely on her adult daughter to obtain and bring her groceries, or to help her shower several times a week. In the fallout of COVID-19, someone like this woman will be exposed just by nature of her everyday life—that is, relying on a person outside their home to help them in basic tasks and survival.
But the concerns for the elderly should be more than just mortality rates. Many elderly people may not have access to social media, an important tool in combating loneliness and connecting with loved ones in this unprecedented time. Community events that drew seniors and the elderly out of their regular spheres are no longer happening, and these populations have less reasons than ever to leave the house and interact with others on a social level. Such isolation can exacerbate existing health problems while also increasing fear and emotional suffering, as explained in this United Nations report.
Although the CDC has outlined specific guidelines for those in long-term care facilities and other forms of shared housing for those over age 65, it’s still important to consider all the ways we can help keep the elderly safe—mentally as well as physically.
Difficulty maintaining at-home care
With job losses as high as 20 million in the past month, there are a lot of people that suddenly aren’t able to afford what they used to. One such casualty of a thinning budget could be Grandma’s part-time nurse or a disabled son’s in-home care. Services such as personal care and grooming, not to mention grocery shopping and light housekeeping can be expensive at the best of times, but particularly now.
Personal care assistants, nurses and medical assistants who fill these positions are putting themselves at risk, and so should be paid accordingly. As the costs mount for essential care for the elderly and homebound, it’s obvious that many will require financial assistance to maintain the same level of care they had before. As for those who couldn’t pay for such services before, there’s little hope for it now without some form of assistance. That’s why a nonprofit like the Live Care Foundation can help lift the financial burden for families, one donation at a time. Do what you can to help the most vulnerable by giving today.
Rachel Harris Ms. Harris is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys reading, triathlons, and baking.