COVID’s Impact on Isolation
Covid-19 brought an urgency and increased focus to the problem of social isolation.
So it was no surprise to Embracing Aging that connectivity was a common theme from our January 22nd online session titled, Let’s Talk Aging. In a robust exchange of ideas, participants cited fear, accessibility, and motivation as barriers to engagement of older adults. And these have been amplified by the pandemic.
Older people were told to “shelter in place” and refrain from seeing family and friends in-person.
Those fortunate enough to have access to a computer, Internet, or a smartphone had the opportunity to connect through online platforms like Zoom. But these came with a learning curve and did not replace our basic need for human contact. Older adults without technology relied on landline phone calls and the U.S. mail as points of engagement.
Since March, guidelines and restrictions have varied. Warmer weather provided a welcome opportunity for in-person gatherings with older loved ones. Yet physical distancing and masks were still recommended. And as all the celebrations, traditions, and routines of 2020 passed through the COVID cloud, it weighed heavily on my mind that the “new normal” of my restricted interactions with family and friends was still more engagement than some isolated older people experience daily.
COVID’s impact on isolation.
There will be a boom of innovations designed to help maximize aging in one’s home and community. We will see a spike in technology platforms to enhance delivery of services and programs. Opportunities for virtual experiences will increase. There will be more wearable devices and diagnostic tests to track measures of our underlying health. Our heads will be spinning from the bombardment of ads for products designed to maximize our aging experiences.
And for those who were routinely isolated before Covid-19, they will continue to be isolated. We must take action to reduce isolation at a systems level. Connectivity needs to be equitable to have a York County that is a great place for all people to grow older.
To hear the ideas shared during the Let’s Talk Aging session, watch the video below. Then reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts for improving connectivity by:
- Reducing fear
- Increasing accessibility
- Inspiring motivation
Together, we can ensure older York Countians, especially those who are routinely socially isolated, have opportunities to thrive as they age.