Amid the doom, gloom and fear surrounding COVID-19 there is an upside for our elderly population. Unlike any other time, people are reaching out to elders. There is a concerted effort to talk to elderly family members, neighbors and friends. Research tells us that loneliness and depression are two of the largest underlying factors that affect the health and wellbeing of our elderly population. With the onset of COVID-19, our attention has been focused specifically on this population of society as at risk.
The news has flooded our television screens with scenes from nursing homes and spotlights on those that are at higher risk for getting and potentially dying from the virus. This national attention has provided an avenue to open the conversation on how we treat our elderly, the state of some nursing homes and in many ways-quarantine has given many people a taste of what it is like to be stuck in your living space, with little to do and the inability to socialize.
The elder prison population has also been receiving some media attention in this Buzzfeed article as they’ve faced abysmal conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Raising awareness about the ‘tinderbox’ of contagion that prisons represent is of paramount importance. Many inmates infected with COVID-19 are not getting any medical attention in their quarantined hospice. This further indicates the need for prison hospice reform.
As we move forward, I can only hope that this experience will provide people more compassion, more empathy and more understanding for what many of the elderly go through daily. Perhaps our new normal will include reaching out to elders more often and continuing to include them in our immediate consciousness.