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...
Times of Crisis:  The Opportunity to Dream Newer Visions

Times of Crisis: The Opportunity to Dream Newer Visions

Times of crisis bring out the best in us and the worst in us. In the last edition of Maturity Matters, we discussed how to protect ourselves from a number of new Covid-19 Scams introduced to exploit and take advantage of our friends and families. This edition looks at the other end of the spectrum – the opportunity to demonstrate the vision of our better angels. Shortly after preparing the article on the scams, I was invited to participate in an email chain that shared uplifting messages with other women. Historically, I have chosen to not respond to these types of chain requests. Something caused me to pause this time. If I would spend many hours researching how to protect folks from the worst of us, why would I not invest the same attention and energy to celebrate, inspire, and share the best in us? I made a leap of faith and decided to participate. While I forwarded to others on the list an impassioned video message on gratitude, I received, (thanks to Melanie Rupp) the following poem: Written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara: “And people stayed at home And read books And listened And they rested And did exercises And made art and played And learned new ways of being And stopped and listened More deeply Someone meditated, someone prayed Someone met their shadow And people began to think differently And people healed. And in the absence of people who Lived in ignorant ways Dangerous, meaningless, and heartless, The earth also began to heal And when the danger ended and People found themselves They grieved for the dead...