Skip to content

When it comes to the novel corona virus, we’ve seen the numbers. We’ve seen charts, graphs, and stats. We know that there’s an astronomical number of positive test results. It’s proven itself to be particularly deadly for the elderly. In fact, in at least 14 states, 50% of COVID-19 deaths are in long-term care facilities, and the deaths of the residents and workers account for one-third of the national death toll.

But those are just the deaths from infected patients. 

Many aren’t dying from Covid-19. 

They’re dying because of it.

Two well-known risk factors for increased mortality in older patients with advanced disease are social isolation and loneliness. Coronavirus has led to social isolation and insufficient caregiver support. That can be devastating and fatal for fragile elderly people who don’t even have the virus.

Enforcing isolation may have been necessary as public health policy, but implementing it in nursing homes and retirement centers may be contributing to the deaths of those not infected with Covid-19. For some, hospice may be the only time they aren’t alone. For many, the unfortunate truth is that they are living out their final days without their loved ones by their sides.

Making universal testing a priority, the White House has recommended facility testing, and many states are implementing testing for patients and staff and screening for visitors. That comes at a high cost. It is estimated to take almost $440 million to test every nursing home patient and staff member in the United States. The costs could be decreased significantly by a method called “pooling.” Pooling would allow batch testing, which could reduce costs between 50-70%.

Logistics aside, the fact remains that senior adults living in isolation are lonely and giving up. They need connection, support, and felt love. In order to help them stay optimistic, and feel safe, we must be proactive and engage with them and let them know that their community cares.

If you need ideas on how to help isolated seniors, take a look at this insightful article with suggestions to boost your loved ones’ morale.

This pandemic is taking its toll on the most vulnerable in our communities. Whether or not they catch the virus has little to do with its far-reaching effects. It’s the preventable silent deaths of the voiceless and forgotten that need our attention.