“We miss too much when we treat all seniors as helpless.” (Unsplash/@unitednations/Lélie Lesage)”
by Sally Chivers
“‘Unprecedented’ might be the word of the COVID-19 pandemic. But for many, especially older adults, life has taken many abrupt turns. Maybe it’s their first pandemic, but it’s not the first time they’ve pivoted without calling it that and created a new normal.
“Yet, we persist in treating people over 70 as an undifferentiated blob of neediness and vulnerability. When we do, we once again miss what older adults contribute.
“As an aging studies scholar, my focus is on the portrayal and treatment of older adults in literature, film and popular culture. During COVID-19, dire fictional portraits of nursing homes as places to avoid and escape appear to be coming alive. We hear a lot about them, but less attention lands on older adults living and making do at home. Public health issues reminders to check on what they call “elderly neighbours.” Those reminders ignore what older people in and out of nursing homes offer to the rest of us.”
by Bruce Horowitz
“Imagine this scenario, perhaps a year or two in the future: An effective COVID-19 vaccine is routinely available and the world is moving forward. Life, however, will likely never be the same — particularly for people over 60.
That is the conclusion of geriatric medical doctors, aging experts, futurists and industry specialists. Experts say that in the aftermath of the pandemic, everything will change, from the way older folks receive health care to how they travel and shop. Also overturned: their work life and relationships with one another.
“’In the past few months, the entire world has had a near-death experience,’ said Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a think tank on aging around the world. ‘We’ve been forced to stop and think: I could die or someone I love could die. When those events happen, people think about what matters and what they will do differently.’
“Older adults are uniquely vulnerable because their immune systems tend to deteriorate with age, making it so much harder for them to battle not just COVID-19 but all infectious diseases. They are also more likely to suffer other health conditions, like heart and respiratory diseases, that make it tougher to fight or recover from illness. So it’s no surprise that even in the future, when a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available — and widely used — most seniors will be taking additional precautions.”
Click here to read the column in its entirety.
Mark this date and time on your calendar: Wednesday, July 22, 1:00 to 2:30 pm. Join Link partners, Karen Greth, Meagan Good and Chris Hainley as they introduce you to special animal friends of theirs during this Webinar presentation.
Our special presenters (human and animal) will be sharing ideas and examples of the ways animals help fight social isolation, loneliness, anxiety and other emotional and out-of-normal feelings. COVID-19 and the resulting stay-at-home orders have changed everything except the joy that animals bring to people.
- Karen Greth, K-PETS – Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services
- Meagan Good, Take Heart Counseling & Equine Assisted Therapy
- Chris Hainley, Fairy Tail Acres, the Rescue.
Each of the presenters will introduce Webinar participants to their animal presenters.
You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Jul 22, 2020 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: The Joy of Animals!
Register in advance for this webinar:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
In a Boston ICU, staff members orchestrate goodbyes over Zoom and comfort patients who would otherwise die alone.
(JIM GOLDBERG / MAGNUM)
by Sarah Zhang
“When the coronavirus came to Boston, doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital noticed how silent certain floors became. Any patients who could be discharged were discharged. Anyone who could stay away stayed away. ‘The hospital had this eerie quiet,’ says Jane deLima Thomas, the director of palliative care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. But in the intensive-care units set up for COVID-19, machines beeped and whirred in room after room of the sickest patients. Those patients were sedated, intubated, and isolated. Many of them would die.
“Palliative care is about providing comfort—physical and emotional—to patients who are seriously ill, including those who may be close to death. Before the pandemic, deLima Thomas’s team worked with patients with kidney disease or cancer or heart failure, but this spring, they all switched to COVID-19. They embedded themselves in the ICUs. Palliative care is a field especially invested in the power of a hug, a steadying hand, and a smile. In other words, palliative care is made especially difficult by a virus that spreads through human contact.
“The first day the palliative-care doctors walked into the ICUs, Thomas says, “we felt like tourists.” They were dressed in business casual, while their ICU colleagues raced around in scrubs and masks. But the palliative-care team—which includes physicians, nurses, chaplains, and social workers—found ways to integrate themselves. In the early days of the pandemic, when protective gear was scarce, no visitors were allowed. Palliative caregivers, along with ICU nurses, held iPads cocooned in plastic bags so families could say goodbye on Zoom. They were sometimes the only one in the room when a patient died, otherwise alone. I interviewed several members of the Boston-based palliative-care team, and their stories, which have been condensed and edited for clarity, are below.”
Read this article in its entirety at The Atlantic, click here.
“In Ventura, California, a woman who is social isolating greets a little boy who has come to visit. – Getty Images / Brent Stirton”
by Paul Nash and Philip W. Schnarrs
“People over 65 years old account for about 80% of the deaths related to COVID-19 in the U.S. But we have to consider comorbidity, not just the number of years lived. Older people more likely live with underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, lung conditions, diabetes and cancer. It is these complications, not just age, that dictate the mortality of COVID-19.
“Yet the misperception persists that older adults are frail and weak. As educators in the field of health and gerontology, we can tell you research shows that ageist attitudes harm the health of older adults. Indeed, the World Health Organization acknowledges ageism as the last socially accepted form of prejudice. And this impacts the kind of care they receive and the health care outcomes they experience.
“In the U.S., these perceptions are reinforced in medical training; geriatric care doesn’t even appear on the list of required training for doctors. This approach may have contributed to the U.S.‘s arguably poor response to COVID-19.”
Click here to continue reading this article at The Conversation.
“The Biggest Psychological Experiment in History Is Running: Now What can the pandemic teach us about how people respond to adversity?” – Scientific American
“Research has shown that when faced with potentially traumatic events, about two thirds of people show psychological resilience.”
Photograph by Ethan Hill
by Lydia Denworth
“The impact of COVID-19 on the physical health of the world’s citizens is extraordinary. By mid-May there were upward of four million cases spread across more than 180 countries. The pandemic’s effect on mental health could be even more far-reaching. At one point roughly one third of the planet’s population was under orders to stay home. That means 2.6 billion people–more than were alive during World War II–were experiencing the emotional and financial reverberations of this new coronavirus. “[The lockdown] is arguably the largest psychological experiment ever conducted,” wrote health psychologist Elke Van Hoof of Free University of Brussels-VUB in Belgium. The results of this unwitting experiment are only beginning to be calculated.
“The science of resilience, which investigates how people weather adversity, offers some clues. A resilient individual, wrote Harvard University psychiatrist George Vaillant, resembles a twig with a fresh, green living core. ‘When twisted out of shape, such a twig bends, but it does not break; instead it springs back and continues growing.'”
“On top of the mounting statistics looms a further casualty of the pandemic: our psychological wellbeing. Will we be able to cope with the fallout?”
“Health workers receiving applause outside the regional hospital in Málaga, Spain. – Photograph: Jesús Mérida/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock”
by Sean O’Hagan
“On Instagram, a friend posts a photograph of a male nurse in an intensive care ward of an American hospital. He is wearing full protective clothing and holding up a patient questionnaire on which he has scrawled a message for his colleagues. It reads: ‘Just going to hold his hand for a while, I don’t think he has long.’
“On an Irish radio station, a woman reads a poem she has written for a loved one lost to the virus. It is called My Sister Is Not a Statistic. It begins:
Tomorrow, when the latest Deathometer of Covid is announced in sonorous tones,
Whilst all the bodies still mount and curl towards the middle of the curve
Heaped one atop and alongside the other
My sister will be among those numbers…
“On Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, a critical care nurse from Sierra Leone, who works in a hospital in the south of England, describes the frantic chaos of the first few weeks of the pandemic. ‘We didn’t have equipment at all, but our ordinary aprons and gloves… I’d go in there praying and hoping I don’t get infected. Then I’d go home, praying and hoping, and trying to isolate myself from my daughters so I am not passing it on to them.'”
“PERSPECTIVE: ‘Is It Safe for Me to Go to Work?’ Risk Stratification for Workers during the Covid-19 Pandemic” – New England Journal of Medicine
by Marc R. Larochelle, M.D., M.P.H.
“Apprehensively, I dialed Mr. M. for an update. Weeks earlier, he and his wife had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. A few days before this call, Mr. M. had been discharged from the hospital, since his cough and fever were improving. Unfortunately, Ms. M. had developed worsening breathing, needed more oxygen, and was at that point being transferred to the ICU. Mr. M. picked up the phone, quiet and tearful. ‘How are you?’ I asked.
“‘Terrible, doctor,’ he replied. ‘Maria died last night.’ She had died, alone, in an ICU. Mr. M. was now mourning her loss, alone, at home. Their children and grandchildren, who live in Europe, mourned at a distance much greater than the recommended 6 feet. As similar scenes play out repeatedly, I find myself saddened and outraged by the inadequacy of our response, which failed to prevent this tragedy for Ms. M. and thousands of patients like her.
“Our conversation quickly turned to how she could protect herself at work.”
Continue reading this perspective in its entirety at the New England Journal of Medicine, click here.
“Phone calls with strangers can reintroduce random connections into our locked-down lives, and be a balm for loneliness and grief.”
“Credit … via QuarantineChat
“Like many people, my life in quarantine has included doses of grief, solitude and unpredictability. In early April, a friend recommended that I try QuarantineChat, an app that connects two people who don’t know each other for a phone call. ‘You’ll love it,’ she said.
“I pocketed the suggestion, and remembered it when my grandmother’s health started to deteriorate. If there was a time to connect with strangers — to startle my life out of its humdrum at-home routine, this was it. I hoped, if only for a few minutes, to be reminded of life in other corners. I wanted to remember what it felt like to be curious about someone else — to meet them for the first time.
“My first match, on May 6, was with a man in Bangkok. He told me about his haircut. ‘My barber was wearing a mask and a face shield,’ he said. ‘It was really weird, but I felt so good.’ He lost his job as a copywriter last month. I exhaled and told him about cutting my own hair with the scissors on a Swiss Army knife, a habit I’d picked up years before while traveling on my bicycle. It felt good to laugh and think about other places. I didn’t have to make eye contact or worry about what I looked like.”