Today we challenge you to check in on the older people in your life.
That may mean calling or emailing your parents, grandparents, neighbours, or anyone else who may be affected by loneliness.
People who are living in long-term care homes or other similar facilities are the most vulnerable to covid-19. They are also the most affected by visiting restrictions. This report depicts how residents are literally dying from the social isolation caused by lack of visitors, boredom and depression. This study found that the majority of participants were more stressed than their younger counterparts, citing pandemic-related worries as the main cause.
Furthermore, the effects of social isolation and loneliness on the elderly are massive. From high blood pressure to a weakened immune system, from cognitive decline to Alzheimer’s disease. According to the AARP foundation, more than 8 million people over 50 suffer from isolation. The health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
What can you do? You may consider starting a pen pal relationship with a resident of a nursing home. Many facilities have pen pal programs where you can write to a resident and other opportunities. I also want to suggest this incredible organization, Love for Our Elders. Their mission is to foster belonging and hope for the elderly by delivering handwritten cards from strangers. You can find more information on sending a card through their organization here.
Ultimately, we have all been affected by the pandemic. However, it’s necessary that we protect our elders.