It is hard, and perhaps even unfair to try and create a hierarchy of suffering that quantifies who bore the brunt of 2020, but what is undeniably true about the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is that it was scariest for those who were most likely to have the severest reactions to it: the elderly. Below are four ways the pandemic uniquely impacted senior citizens.
The pandemic had an isolating effect on many people across all age demographics, but these effects were undoubtedly most acutely felt by our elderly and senior citizens, as health authorities urged older adults to remain secluded and away from friends and family throughout 2020 in light of their (the elderly’s) vulnerable status. What this meant was that scores of elderly people in countries around the world spent exorbitant amounts of time alone, secluded and often suffering from depression.
Not only were friends and relatives barred from coming and visiting the elderly, but many eldercare services like homecare and companionship care were put on hold as well. These kinds of services, for many older adults, are often one of the few sources of social stimulation and engagement that they get on a daily and weekly basis. Depression rates skyrocketed among elderly people throughout 2020.
The life plans of likely every single person on the planet, in some way, shape or form, were either put on hold or maybe even irreparably altered during 2020. Post-secondary educations were either halted or had to be carried on with via much less fulfilling virtual learning; engaged couples put weddings on hold; people put dream vacations on hold; businesses were temporarily or permanently shuttered, and many new ones that would have otherwise started never got the chance to.
For the elderly, who are living out the final decades, and in many cases years of their lives, every marginal year that is lost and every disruption like 2020 is that much larger a percentage of their remaining human experience that went underutilized.
Friends and Family
As we get older, the people we know, including friends and family, pass away. It is a timeless and unalterable fact of life. At a certain point, many seniors can start to feel, in addition to sadness and loss, survivors guilt that is associated with being one of the “last ones standing.” the pandemic sped this process up for many people, as those over the age of 65 were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the much more severe immune response that it provoked in the elderly.
For many older adults around the world, they will spend the rest of their lives thinking about the staggering number of friends and family members they lost in the span of a few short years.
Senior Care Home s
Another reason why the pandemic was uniquely harsh for seniors citizens comes down to the mountain of evidence showing the way in which the response was mismanaged and neglected in senior care homes and facilities around the world. In many cases, inadequate supplies of PPE and insufficient quarantining measures left many thousands of seniors exposed and resulted in many deaths that could have otherwise been prevented.
After the world opens back up and our societies get back to something resembling normal, take note of the seniors you see around you, and even the ones that you have in your personal life, and remember what it meant to be elderly during the 2020 pandemic. This was a virus that, by and large, was the worst for those who happened to have been born the longest ago. In addition to the many lives cut short, many more were put on hold at a stage when time is most precious.
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