There is a Catch 22 in elder care today.
According to the CDC, 80% of deaths associated with Coronavirus in the U.S. are people over the age of 65. “The risk for serious disease and death in COVID-19 cases among persons in the United States increases with age,” the CDC says.
In normal times, special attention is given to the social needs of elderly people, whose lives can be cut short by social isolation. These are not normal times, and the elderly are now being socially isolated in an attempt to prolong their lives.
Lisa Witt is owner of Treemont Retirement Community in the Westchase area of Houston, offering four levels of care including independence, independence plus ala carte services as needed, assisted living and traditional nursing and rehabilitation. She says isolation is something they are especially sensitive to. “One of the benefits of senior living communities is social interaction, and so we think it’s very important and prudent at this time to maintain the level of social interaction that we currently have,” Witt tells KTRH News. Treemont is working to find the delicate balance of providing for their resident's needs, perhaps the greatest challenge of these times.
She says every possible precaution is being applied to the care of their charges. “We’re following CDC guidelines, and we’re taking extra steps to protect our residents, taking temperature checks for our staff when our staff enter the community, doing screenings of visitors.” But there is an emotional connection that sometimes only a family can provide, she says, and every effort is made to accommodate each family's unique needs.
Witt suggests people take prudent action when interacting with elderly but emphasizes the importance of providing them with companionship safely. Extra phone calls, a Facetime visit on a smartphone. Skype. Someone elderly might have a special fondness of receiving a thoughtful letter, maybe one with pictures of the family. They come from a generation when letters were written and appreciatively received. She suggests taking your temperature before visiting grandparents, and cooperate with staff at care facilities, and says only visit if you are safe and have not been in contact with anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.
Here is the CDC's guidance for interacting with older adults.
This is a time for everyone to give special thought to the older people in your life.