The elderly are dying in nursing homes. Some of the culprits include isolation and loneliness. The sameness of every day can bring on a set of mental health issues. According to a recent report, the effects of Covid-19 include the deeply personal costs of quarantined or isolated nursing home patients. They can no longer enjoy the camaraderie and social life of interacting with other seniors or their families.
For many nursing home residents, better social opportunities were one of the prime selling points. Assisted living and nursing home patients suffer isolation from regular daily social intercourse. They also suffer reduced personal attention from medical staff, who are frequently overwhelmed by the coronavirus, quarantine strictures, and the everyday patients’ treatments.
Effects of Prolonged Isolation
Although it’s too soon for any comprehensive clinical studies, it’s easy to see that isolation is robbing seniors of their remaining good days. More seniors are falling prey to physical and mental ailments. These include decreases in strength, increased falls, faster dementia onset, and the ability to walk unassisted.
The figures on death caused exclusively by isolation are hard to track because nursing home patients are, frankly, expected to die at some point. The number is more difficult to estimate than the number of Covid-19 cases, which is also increasing the death rate. According to the Kaiser foundation, there were 84,000 known cases in October of 2020. Coronavirus quarantine measures increase the loneliness of seniors and may break their will to survive.
The Toll Becomes Greater
A recent Chicago study found that two-thirds of nursing home patients lost weight from December of 2019 to April of 2020. Seniors tend to lose their appetite when they have reduced social occasions, confinement, unexpected changes to their daily routines because of the pandemic, and the cessation of family visits.
Visitors were banned from nursing homes during the early stages of the virus because these are considered breeding grounds for the virus. However, the virus continues to spread, and nursing home patients have been among the first people treated with the vaccine.
Strict prohibition of all visitors might impact both the psychological and physical well-being of the patients. The restrictions can confuse and frighten patients with dementia because they rely on familiar faces and a predictable routine. That is why the staff is facing such a challenge. They must be there for the patients more than ever, to help guide them through the pandemic.
Steps to Fight the Problem of Chronic Loneliness
Nursing home negligence may occur at a higher rate in the pandemic environment, and relatives should take all necessary steps to ensure that their loved ones are cared for properly. Federal guidelines put the onus of determining the rules for nursing homes squarely on states and localities.
Even if not through physical presence, you can still be there for your loved ones. Here are some ways to fight isolation:
- Maintain connections with nursing home patients by any means possible.
- Keep in touch with the staff.
- Make sure that you are up to date on any new regulations that might be in place.
- Attend any outdoor or window visits that might be made available.
- Send a care package of favorite foods, flowers, and other personal items that patients might need.
- Use FaceTime, Zoom, or any video conference platform for virtual visits and group celebrations.
- Offer emotional support for your loved one.
Consider Hiring a Lawyer
It’s more difficult than ever to separate necessary isolation from neglect, and a skilled attorney can advise you. If you suspect medical malpractice, you should contact an experienced malpractice attorney to help you navigate a problematic case.
Mary Aderholt is a blog-master and journalist with a fierce passion for writing. She has been editing articles for various US based news-papers whilst contributing to the growth of many personal or organizational blogs for 10 years now. She is well accustomed to writing online as well as offline articles covering almost any type of subjects, be it health, beauty, sports or pretty much anything else-related.