Last week I was invited to discuss the consequences of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the pandemic control measures on older adults at Radio 100komma7. We discussed how residents in care homes felt during the first lockdown in spring when visitors were not allowed into the care homes. In spring, older people reported little impact on their psychological well-being. But the situation is different now: We have been facing a huge rise in cases and COVID-19 deaths over the last months. The discussion was in Luxembourgish (and me speaking German).
The psychologist’s perspective
There are my main takeaways from the discussion:
- The psychological effects of isolation are severe, and many people at advanced older age are additionally at risk of severe cognitive and functional decline.
- Isolation is particularly hard for persons living with dementia or functional impairments who cannot communicate anymore w/digital means.
- We need to balance protection from the virus against human rights and human needs of social contact.
- Those most at risk from getting severely ill or dying from COVID-19 are also the ones suffering most from the pandemic control measures.
- Palliative care at the moment often means only very limited possibilities of visits of relatives and friends, which can be traumatizing for all involved.
The situation in care homes
- The threat of the virus is particularly severe for those who cannot physically distance themselves, for example due to care needs, and for those who don’t fully understand how to protect themselves.
- There is a big responsibility of care homes to protect their residents appropriately in the absence of government guidelines.
- More detailed, expert-informed guidelines to care homes in LU could help them navigate through this complex situation.
The radio discussion
A big thanks to Maxi Pesch @100komma7 for bringing attention to this important topic.
You can find an overview of the discussion (in LU) and podcast (in LU/DE) here: https://www.100komma7.lu/article/aktualiteit/menschewurd-ass-onantastbar.