Aging & Geriatrics
Basic InformationLatest News
Older Adults Turning to Pot for Common Health ProblemsStaying Social Can Boost Healthy 'Gray Matter' in Aging BrainsIs Apathy an Early Sign of Dementia?Many Older Americans With Heart Failure Take 10 or More MedsShall You Dance? Study Finds Dancing Helps Seniors Avoid FallsStudy Sheds Light on Why COVID-19 Hits Elderly HardestEarly Results Show Moderna's COVID Vaccine Safe, Effective in Older PeopleLockdown Could Worsen Hearing Woes for U.S. SeniorsOlder Patients at Risk When Dentists Prescribe OpioidsFall Risk Rises Even in Alzheimer's Early StagesMiddle-Aged Americans Report More Pain Than SeniorsPoll Finds Pandemic Surge in Loneliness Among Older AdultsIsolation, Loneliness of Lockdowns Is Tough on America's SeniorsTeens, Seniors Are Often Driving the Least Safe CarsCommon Meds Tied to Faster Mental Decline in SeniorsSeniors With Depression Show Resilience in Face of PandemicAre Opioids Prescribed Too Freely as Patients Are Moved to Nursing Homes?Telehealth Skyrocketing Among Older AdultsWhy Are Dementia Patients Getting Risky Psychiatric Drugs?Education Benefits the Brain Over a LifetimeCould Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Hasten Cancer in Seniors?Can Seniors Handle Results of Alzheimer's Risk Tests?Telemedicine Is Here: Experts Offer Tips for SeniorsAre Baby Boomers Less Sharp Than Previous Generations?Many Older Adults Can't Connect With Telehealth: StudyMany Older Americans Getting Cancer Screens They Don't Need: StudyMore Education May Slow Start of Early-Onset Alzheimer'sMany Older Americans Staying Strong in the PandemicRepeat Bone Density Tests Might Not Be Needed, Study FindsLess Smoking, Drinking Means Fewer Hip Fractures for AmericansWant to Protect Your Eyes as You Age? Stay Away From CarbsGlaucoma Checkups Fall by the Wayside During PandemicWhat Puts You at High Risk of Midlife Mental Decline?Will Your Brain Stay Sharp Into Your 90s? Certain Factors Are KeyCheck Early and Often for GlaucomaMany Older Americans Face Ageism Every Day, Survey FindsMany Americans With Dementia Live in Homes With GunsAs People Age, They Share Fewer Memories With Others: StudyU.S. Air Pollution Still at Deadly Levels, Study Finds75 or Older? Statins Can Still Benefit Your HeartMuscle Relaxants for Back Pain Are Soaring: Are They Safe?Middle-Age Obesity Linked to Higher Odds for DementiaAmid Pandemic, Fears That Older Americans Are Feeling 'Expendable'What Behaviors Will Shorten Your Life?5 Healthy Steps to Lower Your Odds for Alzheimer'sWant Added Years? Try VolunteeringExercise Habits Key to Gauging Seniors' LongevityGet Moving, Seniors: It's Good For Your BrainMillions of Older Americans Can't Get Enough FoodCan Fruits, Tea Help Fend Off Alzheimer's Disease?
Questions and AnswersVideosLinksBook ReviewsSelf-Help Groups
Related Topics

Depression: Depression & Related Conditions
Elder Care

Amid Pandemic, Fears That Older Americans Are Feeling 'Expendable'

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jun 25th 2020

new article illustration

THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- From the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it's been clear that older adults are especially vulnerable to serious illness.

Now, experts are concerned that older Americans are falling victim to ageism and messages that they are "expendable" amid the crisis.

The pandemic has seen "horror stories" from around the world on the toll exacted on older people, said Gordon Flett, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto.

In countries around the world, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has swept through nursing homes, sometimes aided by decisions to move ill patients from hospitals into care centers. Some of the worst stories, Flett noted, have included certain care homes in Spain where staff abandoned residents, leaving the military to find some dead in their beds; and hospitals in Lima, Peru, that stopped admitting older patients, partly because they are less likely to survive than younger people.

And outside of nursing homes and hospitals, instances of ageism abound -- including messages that most deaths from COVID-19 are "only" among the older people, and that restarting the economy is the priority.

Flett pointed to the widely reported example of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who claimed "lots of grandparents" would be willing to "take a chance" on their survival if it kept the U.S. economy running.

Messages like that can tell seniors they're "expendable," Flett said.

"I've heard one too many times that jumpstarting the economy is more important," he said.

That spurred Flett to pull together a review of research on "mattering" -- which was recently published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

It may be no surprise that human beings have a need to matter -- to the people in their lives and to society.

But research suggests mattering has protective effects that are on top of things like "belonging" to a group, Flett said. Believing you are valued is critical.

"This feeling of mattering can be a buffer against stress and a source of resilience," Flett said.

Studies have linked older adults' sense of mattering to lower odds of depression and loneliness, and also to better physical well-being. When people feel important, Flett noted, they may be motivated to take better care of their physical health.

And the belief that you matter appears especially important for young people and seniors. "They really need the reassurance that they're important," Flett said.

Yet the current climate may send older adults the opposite message, according to Dr. Timothy Farrell, a geriatrics specialist and associate professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City.

Those messages can come in the form of states rushing to reopen after stay-at-home orders, or people flouting social distancing guidelines or refusing to wear masks, Farrell said.

In his own local area, Farrell said it's striking how few people are wearing masks. It seems that many younger people think the burden should be on older adults to protect themselves, he added.

"Individual liberty is taking precedence over communal responsibility," Farrell said.

And communal effort would pay off for everyone, he added. If some states hadn't lifted their stay-at-home orders so soon, "we'd all be in a better place now," Farrell said.

Many are now seeing a surge in new COVID-19 cases, causing some to "pause" their reopening.

At a time when older adults face the risk of a potentially fatal disease -- and are being cut off from their normal interactions and routines -- it's even more important that they get the message they are valued, Flett said.

Family, friends and neighbors can help by simply reaching out.

"Even small gestures go a long way," Flett said. "It can just be you calling and saying, 'Hey, I was thinking of you,' or 'I miss seeing you.'"

He added that older adults are not the only ones who might feel expendable during the pandemic: Essential workers, from health care professionals to grocery store employees, are at risk, too -- especially if they feel they have not been given adequate protection and support.

"We have to be much more proactive in showing people that they matter," Flett said.

More information

Northeastern University has advice on COVID-19 and mental well-being.


Amazon Smile


Children and Adult services are available now with no wait time.  

Please contact HBH at 860-548-0101, option 2.


powered by centersite dot net