Suzanne Salamon, MD (Geriatric Medicine, BIDMC) discusses how COVID-19 has removed many social supports for seniors and the importance of continuing regular connections as often as possible.

ABC Oklahoma – June 28, 2020

Percentage of people in nursing home who feel lonely has likely increased during pandemic

Before the coronavirus pandemic, about 20% of older Americans reported feeling lonely. That number has likely increased since social distancing went into effect.

“It’s been a very, very lonely experience,” said Dr. Suzanne Salamon, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Experts say the nursing home restrictions put into place during the pandemic removed many social interactions for senior citizens.

“People at home have lost many of the people we take for granted,” Salamon said. “Cleaning people who come in two or three times a month, home health aides who come in to help with showers.”

That isolation could have health consequences because people are not able to eat or exercise as they normally would. Salamon said connection can go a long way for both mental and physical health.

“If you pick up the phone and call every single day, that makes a difference,” Salamon said. “Write a little card or something and put it in the mail because for many people, having a letter they can read over and over again rather than a phone call or in addition to a phone call is very helpful.”