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Fear and Loneliness in Elderly Home Sparks Mental Health Crisis this Christmas, Experts Warn

The covid-19 pandemic has not only affected people’s physical health but also adversely affect their mental health. During the pandemic, the elderly have been stuck inside nursing homes and have felt loneliness and fear that likely affected their physical health.
Now that Omicron has been detected in many countries, experts predict a mental health crisis could occur in nursing home facilities as old people are advised to stay inside. They said that fear and loneliness among the elderly will like spike this Christmas Day.


depressed elderly in a nursing home

Left: Helen, 99, in May. Right: Helen, in July, after rapid health declines during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Helen has been placed on hospice. (PHOTO: AARP Foundation)

Mental Health Crisis in Nursing Homes

Daily Express cited the report of Alzheimer’s Society that says about 150,000 elderly in nursing homes spent the last Christmas Day alone. But that increased to 318,000 people in May 2021 in which the Mental Health Foundation and Independent Age said that the pandemic has taken a toll on many elderly aged 65 and up.

Independent Age CEO Deborah Alsina said that the pandemic has brought into light the mental health needs of older people because it exacerbated this problem. 

Lockdowns, especially during Christmas Day in 2020, have increased calls for help for the elderly by about 149% since 2019 and experts are expecting mental health crises among the elderly. Chief executive Kate Lee added that this will likely affect the Christmas magic as families have to cope with the irreversible decline of their loved ones.

Ministers in the United Kingdom have already announced that care home residents will be allowed to up to three visitors and one essential care worker during the visit.

ALSO READ: Emergence Of The Omicron Variant Affects The Travel Mandates


Mitigating the Impact of Social Distancing Among Elderly

Psychologist James S. House, Ph.D. said that experts can help mitigate the effects of social distancing on the mental health of the elderly. In an article published in the American Psychological Association (APA), House and other experts said that the following could help prevent loneliness and feelings of isolation among the elderly:

  • Reach out to patients during a crisis.
  • Use technology to reach out to them, such as being open to telemental health options
  • Encourage the elderly to keep in touch with their families
  • Encourage the youth to visit grandparents
  • Encourage older patients to stay in to protect the younger ones and vice versa

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