It’s no secret that America’s elderly population is among the hardest hit by the COVID pandemic. Not only are they at higher risk of infection, those who live alone are more likely to succumb to the loneliness of precautionary self-isolation, says Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC].
How bad is it for our senior population?
“Bad enough that desperate residents of a long-term care facility in Greely, CO, sick and tired of COVID-19 restrictions, recently staged a protest. Many of them were in wheelchairs and holding signs that read ‘Rather die from COVID than loneliness,’ ‘Prisoners in our own home’ and ‘Give us freedom’,” says Weber.
She notes that Pew Research recently found that 27% of adults ages 60 and older live alone in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control reports that many of them are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk. In fact, the CDC cites studies that show:
Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
Social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.
“Those of us who have what we might call normal lifestyles feel lonely when we haven’t seen our friends and family in more than a couple of days. Imagine not having friends and family in the best of times and now that the world is dealing with the deadly coronavirus your norm is solitary confinement,” says Weber.
Here are some Websites that may provide you with ideas on how to overcome the perils of loneliness if you, a neighbor, a loved one are exhibiting the rigors of self-isolation and masked faces: