As society moves to what we recognize more as “normal”, we still see the effects of the pandemic in our daily lives, especially in the aging population. Yes, older adults were most at risk of the virus to begin with. But, we are talking about the after-effects post-Covid. Studies are conflicting as the population seems to have shown a pull in opposite directions. What we do know is that everyone dealt with isolation and minimal hospital/doctor access. Older adults either thrived or suffered tremendously and everyone suffered other effects.
Thriving Post Pandemic
Some of the aging population thrived and became more conscious of their movement. Their awareness shifted from bad habits to creating a healthier balance in their life. They started favoring movement, virtual social interactions, and better overall life choices. This led to a significant increase in overall health! Those older adults landed on the positive end of the spectrum with effort, situational readiness, and awareness.
Those That Suffered
On the opposite spectrum, studies show the group that suffered the most were those that did not have the means to choose their health. This inability was either due to mental, or physical restrictions that spiraled into the less favorable outcome of the pandemic. They moved less, either because they were already demobilized and the help they needed was not readily available. Perhaps the mere emotional strain of the global pandemic was too much to handle so their reaction was to freeze. Virtual interactions were not an option for them. Of course, physical interactions were minimized too for their own safety.
These patients were the ones having muscle loss, less cognitive agility, and cognitive impairment. That led to physical deterioration. Their end of the spectrum ranged in the less favorable outcome varying between stagnancy or the more dangerous: a fall that depleted their health even more.
Limited Medical Care
No matter where they sat on the pandemic spectrum, everyone is experiencing the current backlog of appointment availability for procedures and doctor visits. Because of the need to minimize exposure to the virus, especially for the elderly population, doctor’s offices and hospitals are backed up. Now that scheduling is more “normal” again, people are coming out of the woodwork to get stuff done which has lead to a backlog. Regardless of their health status, both spectrums of the elderly group are feeling the long waits and delayed visit availability due to this backlog.
Until the pendulum of social normalcy comes back to center, the effects of the pandemic will still be felt in many realms of life, globally. No matter what effects your older loved ones had, it is important to continue checking in with them. And it is pertinent to go deeper than the physical check-in! We all could use more emotional support.