On a personal note, but relevant to the times; on March 13, 2020, my wife was told she could no longer visit her 97-year-old mother in her nursing home.
In May she died… not from COVID, but from failure to thrive due to Social Isolation. I attempted to make the State aware of this most difficult and tragic situation, as many elderly were dying from this exact same thing. I had the opportunity to discuss this important issue with Kristen Sorensen, KDKA news reporter – you can view our story here. I was also invited to speak to NAHAC (National Association of Healthcare Advocacy) on social isolation and its effect on nursing home residents – you can view this video here.
Our friend, and one of the features in the YouTube series, is Tony Gorezcny, PhD, Director of Psychology at Chatham University. Tony Indicated that “43% of adults over the age of 59 reported significant loneliness.” This is a huge risk factor for both physical and mental disease process. When people are lonely, there is a 64% risk of dementia, 26 percent of risk of death, increased risk of depression, suicide, and more.
If you know people who are lonely in the community or in a nursing home, reach out to them. You will make them feel better and you will feel better as well! My colleague and friend asked that people send letters and cards to her mother who was in a nursing home. The cards and letters made her mother very happy while be isolated from family and friends. Have your children and grandchildren make drawings for residents in nursing homes. Reach out to your neighbors who are alone by shoveling their walk, calling them once a week, and getting them groceries. Acts of Kindness are more important than ever! Thank the people who work in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. They are our heroes!
And speaking of acts of kindness, it doesn’t just apply to those in nursing homes. My wife put a box of candy bars with a ‘thank you’ sign out for our mailman, and all the delivery people who left letters and packages on our porch during the holiday season. Small (and large!) acts of kindness can go a long way, and is extremely beneficial to everyone’s mental health. Keep fighting the good fight, and I will do the same.