Loneliness and COVID
We have all learned that staying close to home and avoiding crowded places can help older adults reduce their risk of being exposed to COVID-19. But a new national poll suggests it comes with a cost, especially for those with any type of health challenges.
According to new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, which is done for the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, the June 2020 poll on loneliness involved a national sample of more than 2,000 adults aged 50 to 80. Results of this poll showed that 56% of people responding said they
sometimes or often felt isolated from others, which is double the 27% who felt isolated in a similar poll in 2018. Nearly half of those polled felt more isolated than they had just before the pandemic arrived in the United States, and a third said they felt they had less companionship than before.
Social contacts suffered too, with 46% of older adults reporting in June that they infrequently interacted with friends, neighbors, or family outside their household – doing so once a week or less – compared with 28% who said this in 2018.
“As the pandemic continues, it will be critical to pay attention to how well we as a society support the social and emotional needs of older adults.”
John Piette, Ph.D.
“As the pandemic continues, it will be critical to pay attention to how well we as a society support the social and emotional needs of older adults,” says John Piette, Ph.D., a professor at the U-M School of Public Health who worked with the poll team. “The intersection of loneliness and health still needs many studies, but even as we gather
new evidence, all of us can take time to reach out to older neighbors, friends, and relatives in safe ways as they try to avoid the coronavírus.
We at Tapestry House Assisted Living have seen firsthand the effect of loneliness. We have had residents move in recently that, after nearly nine months of semi-isolation, seemed to have given up. Poor eating habits, little to no exercise, changed sleeping habits, signs of depression. But after being in an environment of their peers where the
day has structure, the meals have variety, and there is companionship and just plain fun, all of a sudden they are wearing lipstick to dinner and laughing at the jokes. The transformation that can occur is heartwarming. While we will not be completely back to normal until the vaccination rollout is complete, we know that we will continue to
stress the importance of a strong community as a type of therapy, one that we all value. After all, we all know that in prison being put in solitary confinement is the most severe type of punishment they mete
out. We all need each other. Now more than ever, we live by our motto of a “smile at every touchpoint”. And here at Tapestry, there are plenty of smiles!