Updated: Oct 6
If you keep up with current events, your newsfeed may include articles describing the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults living in nursing homes. If you scan the headlines, it might be easy to conclude that exposure to the coronavirus leading to a COVID-19 diagnosis would be the biggest risk facing older Americans.
While it’s true that a COVID-19 diagnosis can prove fatal for a frail elderly person, we’re seeing that the actions long-term care facilities have taken to protect their residents are a double-edged sword. Chronic isolation is creating an even bigger problem for people living in long-term care facilities: an outbreak of lockdown-fueled loneliness, depression, and atrophy.
The problem has received some attention. Articles in the New York Times and NextAvenue detail the horrifying emotional toll that COVID-19 is taking on nursing home residents and their family caregivers.
What’s it like closer to home, here in Middle Tennessee? We posed this question to people on all sides of the issue, including Takacs McGinnis’ elder care coordinators, family caregivers prevented from seeing their loved ones, and administrators of two local long-term care facilities attempting to balance patient safety with family access. The result of these conversations was a multi-part series of articles that originally appeared on the Takacs McGinnis blog.
The series starts with reflections from the elder care coordinators at Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law: Debra King and Pati Bedwell. Debra, a licensed clinical social worker, has been guiding Takacs McGinnis clients through the long-term care journey for more than a decade. Pati, who has been with the firm since 2015, has spent most of her career working in and around long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
In the third article in the series, the adult children of two Takacs McGinnis clients share their first-person experiences dealing with COVID-related lockdowns and the resulting problems.
The final installments look at the lengths two local long-term care facilities have gone to navigate this unprecedented time.