The toll on the elderly caused by the COVID-19 panic rises, and not because they have caught COVID-19.
According to an Associated Press story this week, an estimated 40,000 nursing home residents have died prematurely since March, resulting in a 15 percent increase in “excess deaths” at those facilities. “Nursing home watchdogs are being flooded with reports of residents kept in soiled diapers so long their skin peeled off, left with bedsores that cut to the bone, and allowed to wither away in starvation or thirst,” the AP reported. Adult children are shocked to find their once-healthy, active parents near death and in excruciating pain due to neglect.
One Tennessee woman recounted her heartbreak at seeing her mother for the first time in months: “The 79-year-old had dropped about 20 pounds, her eyes sunken and her legs looking more like forearms. Doctors at the hospital said she was malnourished and wasting muscle. There were bedsores on her backside and a gash on her forehead from a fall at the home. Her vocabulary had shrunk to nearly nothing and she’d taken to pulling the blankets over her head.”
Tens of thousands of similar accounts flood social media; a group of senior citizens staged a protest last month outside their Colorado nursing home, begging for permission to see their loved ones. One sign read, “I’d rather die from COVID than loneliness.”
I am sorry, but I am of same mind. When I am very old I would want to be able to see my loved ones, even at the risk of getting sick. But then, that has always been the case. The elderly are very vulnerable to any contagious disease. Yet, until this madness, we recognized that life must go on, and that the family must come first.
Not seeing relatives and keeping these helpless old people in the equivalent of solitary confinement is not kind, and in fact is downright cruel. And apparently it has led to a reduced level of care in many institutions, because no one from the family has been present to make sure that care is proper. (From experience with both our parents, if you don’t make your presence felt with the long-term care facility, your parents will not get proper care. They will get ignored.)
But no, we need to cancel Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and all family gathering. And we need to now close restaurants early, at 10 pm, because it is in that specific hour that COVID-19 becomes truly contagious and dangerous.
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