The nation is currently gripped by peaceful protests and violent riots unfolding across our cities, which has turned many away from news and information about the ongoing public health pandemic. Despite the fact that COVID-19 is no longer dominating headlines for the first time in months, it’s still sweeping through our communities and devastating human lives. Our nation’s nursing homes and eldery healthcare system are particularly vulnerable, largely because healthcare practices have been forced to change overnight to prevent the spread of the virus.
Here’s a review of how nursing homes and other institutions are coping with this pandemic amidst ongoing events.
Dementia patients are suffering
As many people age, they begin to suffer from dementia, which the CDC describes as “a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities,” rather than a specific, individual disease. Unfortunately, dementia is one of the greatest plagues of modern society, largely because people are living for longer periods of time than ever before. What’s even worse than the mere existence of dementia is that the continued spread of COVID-19 has seriously challenged dementia care specialists, who have historically traveled to patients’ homes to provide them with healthcare services. Right now, that kind of travel and interpersonal interaction is strictly prohibited.
The Lancet recently published some truly excellent work on COVID-19 and dementia, wherein they illustrated that many dementia patients have pre-existing healthcare conditions and a lack of access to good information about the ongoing pandemic. Many local authorities have banned nursing home visits or in-home visits from healthcare specialists to prevent the spread of the virus, but in doing so they’ve limited dementia patients’ access to healthcare services.
Digital counselling can help, but it can’t replace in-person interactions entirely. The CDC has issued additional guidance to caregivers living with dementia patients, but even they can only help so much in this stressful situation. Organizations like Skylark Home Care are hard at work to minimize any loss of life, but private healthcare providers across the country are beset by financial difficulties related to COVID-19. Many hospitals are losing millions per day, for instance, and eldery care facilities are in similar financial binds.
During public health pandemics, people naturally become worried about their own health. It’s nevertheless imperative that we don’t forget about certain members of our community who struggle to take care of themselves and cause nursing home neglect. Dementia patients cannot be forgotten in our efforts to overcome COVID-19.