The Impact Of COVID-19 On Older Adults Aging In Place
by Jess Walter
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world in unimaginable ways. Not only has the economy been injured, but the collective mental health of the nation also took a knock. There are a number of ways in which older adults aging in place have been affected by the pandemic. Apart from fearing contracting the virus and becoming increasingly socially-isolated, the quality of living of many has also been directly affected by diminished service delivery during the subsequent lockdown.
Health care services got a virtual makeover
Many who are aging in place require medical care, whether it is in the form of continuous assistance from a live-in caregiver, or routine visits to a health care facility for a check-up or to have a prescription refilled. At the height of the pandemic, health care as it was known ceased to exist. Countless non-urgent medical procedures were canceled across the country, and a visit to the local pharmacy was no longer as simple as it used to be. Thankfully, telemedicine has made it possible for many to obtain the medical care they need amidst a large-scale disruption of services. Apart from meeting with their healthcare teams on a virtual platform, telemedicine can also be utilized as a powerful preventative care tool. Although telemedicine enjoyed a steady climb in popularity prior to the pandemic, it proved to be particularly beneficial during the lockdown, as it naturally reduces the necessity to travel to non-emergency medical appointments.
Household maintenance required readjusting
Ensuring your household runs smoothly while aging in place is no easy feat. Unless an older adult is in perfect health, they may require help with every-day tasks, including shopping, doing laundry, preparing meals, maintaining the garden and tending to the general maintenance of the home. Prior to the pandemic, service providers to assist with all these and more were readily available. When the lockdown was first implemented in the USA during March, many businesses had to close their doors immediately – and permanently. Thankfully, those who managed to survive by adjusting their operational strategies and reconfiguring their budgets were able to continue to provide invaluable services to older adults as restrictions were lifted. Taking the plight of the nation’s elderly into consideration, services such as Citymeals on Wheels, which is the biggest senior meal delivery program in the country, adapted rapidly to ensure that they could continue to support those in need.
Transportation has always been a key issue
Transportation has always been a big concern for older adults. Although many who are aging in place still drive their own cars, many others have become reliant on public transport and the kindness of others. Having access to taxis, buses and dedicated senior transportation services is therefore of the utmost importance. During lockdown, however, this was no longer an option, as many were urged to stay at home. The lack of transport was, thankfully, somewhat negated by an increase in the number of available delivery services across multiple industries. Online delivery services eliminated much of the need to venture to shops, while an increase in food delivery options also proved to be a saving grace.
As fulfilling as aging in place may be, it definitely isn’t without its challenges. Thankfully, as restrictions are lifted, the delivery of pertinent services to older adults will hopefully resume as normal.