“As vaccination has allowed nursing homes to open up a little, thousands of family members are seeing older loved ones with a disturbing clarity not possible during FaceTime calls and window visits. Even under the best of circumstances, the oldest seniors tend to decline over a year. But experts on dementia and aging say there is little doubt that isolation and loneliness steepened the slope for many. The pandemic was especially hard for nursing home residents with dementia, they said, but even some elders who live alone in their long-time homes suffered from lack of social contact and oversight.
“We are concerned that it will take some time to recover from the double whammy of the direct effects of the virus as well as the indirect effects” said Sarah Lock, AARP’s senior vice president for policy and brain health. “The real question is how much of the[ damage] is reversible, and we don’t really know the answer to that yet,” said Karl Steinberg, a San Diego geriatrician who is present of the AMDA-the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care. It’s clear, he said, that the isolation of the pandemic made things worse for some residents of long-term care.
Steinberg said he saw patients who declined during the first few months, then plateaued. He’s now seeing some improve. “It just seems like those that have survived are probably going to be ok,” he said.”– Stacey Burling, “A year of isolation was hard on older adults with dementia. Families and experts wonder how much damage can be undone.” 4/27/21
Please remember that your residents may still be lonely and may be traumatized from the separation from family and the distance caregivers had to maintain for the past year. They are lonely, depressed, and declining. Do what you can to preserve their quality of life; maintain their independence and encourage them to reach out to family and friends with visitation when allowed. Remember, they depend on us!
Stay well, mask up indoors, and stay tuned!