COVID-19 Era Social Isolation among Older Adults

General Information

COVID-19 Era Social Isolation among Older Adults
Stephanie MacLeod, Rifky Tkatch, Sandra Kraemer, Annette Fellows, Michael McGinn, James Schaeffer, and Charlotte S. Yeh
Publication Type
Journal paper
Risk of COVID-19 exposure and more severe illness are serious concerns for older adults. Social distancing has worsened existing social isolation, with severe impacts on connectedness among seniors. The pandemic is threatening to cause an extended health crisis, with impacts including serious health consequences. Our primary purpose is to summarize emerging research describing the impacts of the pandemic on social isolation among older adults. A streamlined search was conducted to fit the scope of this literature review. Common research databases and mainstream resources and websites were utilized to identify research published or released in 2020 to align with the pandemic. Early research indicates that the pandemic has worsened social isolation among older adults. Social isolation has become urgent, as seniors have lost their usual connections due to social distancing. While safety measures are critical to prevent virus exposure, this approach must be balanced with maintaining social connectedness. The pandemic highlights the importance of social connections, with significant impacts on both community-living older adults and those in nursing facilities. Safety protocols have created a paradox of reduced risk along with greater harm. Consequently, adapted approaches are urgently needed to address the consequences of a long-term social recession.