Virus’ impact on baby boomers
By Sandra Schiele, Counsel House
What’s it like to have minimal to no human interaction for five months? Ask some of the baby boomers. They are the age group we recognize as being very vulnerable to this virus, so they are the individuals many of us take extra measures to protect/to avoid.
Physically, most of my patients will agree that this is in their best interest and, therefore, justifies a lot fewer face-to-face interactions with them. But what does longer term isolation do to those we are trying the most to protect?
It can cause loneliness and an exacerbation of physical and behavioral health symptoms. It encapsulates our loved ones to where there aren’t extra eyes checking to make sure they are otherwise doing well.
Like many of us, I have seen firsthand how this virus has effected my loved ones. I have a sister who was in quarantine in Florida since March 2020 with no face-to-face contact with other loved ones. Seeing her for the first time last week, since last year, I see the toll this virus has taken on this 71-year-old lady.
She spoke regularly on the phone with several of us and always seemed well. Small things started to not add up though. She began repeating herself and became forgetful. This prompted a visit from her son and a move back to Kentucky with him.
Upon arriving at her home, he observed the full bottles of medication. My sister, like many, became so isolated that all she wanted to do was sleep. There was nothing motivating her to get out of bed. No one to visit. No one to stop by. No ballgames to watch. No need to keep her home spotless as had always been her style. This is how some folks have become.
It’s all the more reason to check on our loved ones during this pandemic. Even though we video chatted and she appeared OK for the longest time, the missed medications does seem to have left her more confused and less in touch with current affairs. Our first act of business was to set up an appointment with a primary care physician for a complete physical and blood work. I’m confident she will improve now that we are able to monitor her more closely, now that she has a reason to get out of bed.
So, you may be thinking to yourself that experts say to avoid/minimize face-to-face interactions with our older generations. Mental health says we need to remain in contact. Phone calls and video chats are helpful in allowing us to assess their tone of voice, physical appearance, cognitive functioning and mood. Yet, there’s still something missing. It seems that even during video chats, we need to be checking with our loved ones to make sure they’re keeping up with their acts of daily living, their appointments and their medications. It may seem intrusive but remind them that you love them and that there are some who have fallen through the cracks because of the social distancing and quarantine.
Remember, if we can be of assistance to you or a loved one, contact us at 812-738-3277 or via email at [email protected] For 24/7 crisis and information services, you can also call Louisville’s Hope Now Hotline at 1-800-221-0446.
Editor’s note: Sandra Schiele is a licensed behavioral health specialist who practices at Counsel House in Corydon.