It is undeniable that most of us prefer not to look too closely at what goes on in nursing homes across the country. In fact, unless we have a need of nursing home services for ourselves or for our elderly loved ones, we hardly notice them at all. This, of course, is a natural aversion to sickness, aging, and death. However, after COVID-19 ravaged the elderly population in nursing homes, infecting 654,000 residents and killing 132,000 elderly Americans, social workers began to take a closer look at how nursing homes are run and how we can improve the service they seek to provide.
We were surprised by the results of our recent mini-poll, when we asked six case workers serving our elder population what they considered the most pressing current problem elders are facing. 3 out of 6 (50%) said, "internet scams". Internet scams?! What’s going on now? What kind of scoundrel would cheat the elderly out of the last of their nest egg?
Case workers tell us that the shameful practice of scamming seniors is on the rise. With the elderly population growing, seniors racked up more than $3 billion in losses this past year. Case workers say that the heart-breaking irony of elder fraud is that seniors are targeted because they tend to be trusting and polite.
Everyone knows how the pandemic walloped the elderly in 2020. Nursing homes became the epicenter of COVID-19 deaths. No, Mr. Sinatra, it was not “a very good year” for the elderly.
Meals On Wheels, which delivers meals to the elderly in their homes and at senior centers, has seen demand for their services explode since the pandemic started.
- When COVID-19 hit, a staggering 89% of Meals On Wheels programs reported increased demand for meals, practically overnight.
- 79% of Meals On Wheels programs saw their demand double.
- Older adults who were mobile prior to the pandemic can no longer safely go to stores to buy their own food, and many do not have loved ones close by to help them through this time. Add this to the roster of seniors who were already homebound.
The letter below from a young nurse to her grandmother touches on the painful separation from one another we all feel that has caused our country’s uneven response to, and resulting suffering from, this terrible pandemic.
Ellen is a 31-year-old nurse working in a Seattle intensive care unit for the past six months watching Covid patients die alone. She sat down after her shift one night and wrote this letter to her grandmother, who she hadn’t visited in more than a year.
I think this thoughtful young woman captures the suffering that social separation can cause. With her permission, I publish her touching letter below...