The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives in one way or another, whether it be a small inconvenience, such as wearing a mask to go to the grocery store, or, much more tragically, losing a loved one to the virus. However, it has affected our most vulnerable population most prominently–senior citizens. 8 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths reported in the US have been in adults 65 years old or older (CDC).
COVID-19 rates in long term care facilities
The danger of COVID-19 has forced caregivers to reconsider their care plan for elderly loved ones. Families that visited their loved ones daily or weekly are now hesitant out of fear of unknowingly spreading the virus to them. In addition, placing aging parents in senior care facilities is dangerous given the COVID rates. While 7% of the US COVID-19 cases have occurred in long term care facilities, they account for an astounding 40% of the country’s fatalities (New York Times).
The pandemic negatively affects mental health in senior citizens
COVID-19 has not only impacted senior citizens physically, but also mentally and emotionally. The University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA) asked a national sample of 50-80 year olds about a lack of companionship and isolation before and during the pandemic. The results showed a significant increase in loneliness. 41% felt a lack of companionship compared to 34% in 2018. 56% reported that they felt isolated from others, an increase from 27% in 2018, and almost half of senior citizens, 46%, reported that they had infrequent social contact (NPHA).
How we can help
We must support our elderly population physically and emotionally during these unprecedented times. 76% of Americans aged 50 and over reported they prefer to remain in their own homes while aging, especially now with the spread of COVID-19 in long term care facilities (AARP). There are a variety of technology solutions to help our elderly population age in place, ranging from medication reminders, to meal delivery, emergency services, and sensors that monitor activity, or lack thereof, in the home. That’s where CarePenguin comes in! We provide a non-invasive solution for remote monitoring of a loved one’s activity. CarePenguin detects activity in a home through water use, so no cameras, motion sensors, or wearables needed.
Given the increase in loneliness among senior citizens, it’s also important to show our elderly loved ones a little more companionship and love during this time. AARP provides a great survey from Connect2Affect to assess the risk of loneliness and isolation among older adults as well as resources to help our elderly population’s mental health during the pandemic.
Deciding the best care path for our elderly loved ones is always a complex decision, and with the outbreak of COVID-19, that uncertainty has been magnified. However, with the right intentions, technology, and solutions, we can help senior citizens thrive during this time.