Social distancing could negatively impact senior citizens

Coronavirus Local Impact

(WWLP) — Social distancing, while beneficial for stopping the spread of the coronavirus, it can create additional obstacles to senior citizens who may be impacted more negatively by the lack of socialization.

22News spoke with assisted living facilities about what they are doing to help the most vulnerable.

Dr. Nancy Donovan, the division director of geriatric psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s hospital told 22News, “Social isolation and the experience of being socially isolated which we call loneliness, which is measurable that has deleterious effects on health in older people.”

To combat that, some local assisted living facilities are trying to keep seniors happy while adhering to social distancing protocol.

Terri Nyzio, the activities director at the Arbors at Chicopee, told 22news, “Encouraging residents to leave their door open so as we walk by we can wave and blow a kiss. Just let them know that we’re there for them. I’m doing packets, crossword puzzles, short stories.”

They’re also staying connected with family, who would usually come to visit in person but can’t since the COVID-19 Outbreak.

“I’ve been using our iPad. Every afternoon I have two or three of my residents having video chats with their families and they’re loving it. Actually they think it’s so neat that they can see their loved ones through this device,” Julie Dudley, Program Director at the Arbors at Chicopee Alzheimer’s Unit told 22News.

The residents have been staying active by giving advice to people on social media.

One resident at the assisted living facility says that they will be alright.

“Stay in there and just hang our heads up high and bear it,” said Ruth Lamothe. “We’ll get by, no matter what. We’re strong people.”

Dr. Donovan says it’s important to remind seniors that the act of social isolation can be positive because you’re doing it for the good of everyone else.

Doctors say the experience seniors have in isolation has a bigger impact than the length of the isolation, so those finding ways to stay active will be okay.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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