Feelings of isolation and loneliness are major issues senior citizens are facing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. In an effort to keep them safe, many seniors are being left completely alone by friends and loved ones. This sense of abandonment is not only heartbreaking, but can be detrimental to a senior's health and well-being.
"We need to remember our seniors, our loved ones, our grandparents, our elderly parents," said Dr. Amy Khan, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah.
Khan says while it is important to follow health guidelines, it's also important to make sure seniors are cared for. Khan says we need to, "Make sure we’re sharing the love, setting time aside to call our loved one, go visit briefly, even masked up for a quick hug, that’s OK. It’s really about attending to those needs that we all have, to make sure that they’re in the fold of our life."
Khan says it's important to remember the risk of getting COVID-19 boils down to three key factors - density, distance and duration. She says, "Interacting with lots of people really closely for long periods of time puts us all at greater risk, but particularly elderly people who are more at risk for the severity of the infection."
Khan says that even for a short visit, wear a mask, stay physically distant and frequently and thoroughly wash your hands. Khan says, "First and foremost we need to protect ourselves and make sure we’re not sick, because we don’t want to bring the infection into the home our loved one."
You can also safely help older loved ones connect to the world around them through a laptop, tablet or phone. "There’s just so much available now," says Khan. "I think our job is to help to help give folks access to devices so they can access that information."
And don't forget to look into free services that may be available.
"I think many of our seniors are on Medicare Advantage Plans like Regence and they offer some other services, like meals that can be delivered, transportation services, even some virtual companionship," says Khan.
Remember, connection is a key part of our overall health. "We are so close to having a vaccine and better therapeutics in the future. But until then, the most important thing is to support each other in taking those precautions and making sure that we’re staying connected to each other," says Khan.
For more information and resources about COVID-19, please visit www.regence.com.