Friday, March 27, 2020
The New York Times has also addressed the topic of social isolation from the standpoint of what happens when the senior centers and other agencies close during the pandemic. ‘I’m Really Isolated Now’: When Elders Have to Fight Coronavirus Alone explores this, "[t]he shutdown of community centers means enforced solitude and a loss of structure." These gathering points go by many names, senior center, activity center, community center, neighborhood center, but they all have something in common-a place for an elder to go---to get a meal, to get information, to get services, to get referrals and to socialize. "For 30,000 elders each day, senior centers were an outlet from their homes. And now, by order of the mayor, all on-site activities are closed, though the centers can still provide meals to go." There's a catch-22 at play here:
It is a terrible irony of the virus: that for older adults, steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19 increase the risks of social isolation, which carries its own devastating health effects. A study by the AARP compared the effects of prolonged isolation to those of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Normally programs for elders aim to increase human contact. Now that contact is potentially deadly.
In many instances, this results in a feeling of loss of control, according to the article. Social engagement, the provision of clear and accurate information is a plus while " alarmist news programs, on the other hand, can make people feel helpless."
Keep an eye out on your relatives and neighbors. Let them know they aren't alone in this-even if it's just waving to them across back yards.