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Covid-19 and the Cost of Social Isolation

Covid-19 and the Cost of Social Isolation

Betty is 97. Lives in an Assisted Living Facility. Must receive and take all her meals alone in her room. Has not participated in any group social activities for approaching 3 months now. Has had no physical contact with family, friends, or co-residents for almost 3 months. Every day is the same in the small room and times and dates have lost any distinction. TV no longer serves as a distraction. Betty admits to profound loneliness. She is protected from the Covid-19 virus. But is she safe? No one will deny the need to do all we can to keep our communities safe and healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is especially true for our most vulnerable citizens. And yet, it would be equally wrong to deny the short-term and long-term impact of the loss of association, community, physical contact and touch. We know that social engagement and connection form a critical part of our life experience. This is especially true as move through later-life transitions. Our time with family, friends, peers, and community contributes to our sense of well-being, life meaning, joy, and purpose. Social isolation can increase feelings of loneliness, impairing our mental and physical health. Spiritual bonds are often challenged and questioned during lonely times. This is especially difficult for those isolated and living on their own – at home or in a care facility. Loneliness has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated inflammation, anxiety and depression. These risk factors contribute toward chronic illness, and ultimately, can lead to premature death. Part of the problem with the loneliness resulting from the Covid-19 isolation...