Local News

Isolation dangerous to nursing home residents' mental health

Posted November 23, 2020 5:22 p.m. EST
Updated November 23, 2020 7:43 p.m. EST

Some nursing home residents, especially those without family nearby, have gone without a visit since March. While the rise in coronavirus cases across the state poses a physical threat, that isolation could have an even greater impact on the quality of life, both physically and emotionally for many residents of nursing homes.

Roger Regelbrugge’s father recently passed away after spending time in a North Carolina nursing home. Regelbrugge is very familiar with the impact of isolation and how important a visit can be to a resident’s health.

"Especially around this time of year, to not be able to spend time with family is especially difficult," he said.

Lauren Zingraff, an advocate for long-term care residents, says visits are allowed but they are limited, and there could be even stricter visitation guidelines in the near future because of the spike in cases as people travel for the holidays.

"We are very concerned this will happen again, another round of shutdowns like we had in March," she said. The only thing I can say is it’s going to be catastrophic."

One thing she’s pushing for is a bridge for the technology gap.

"Wherever we are, or wherever we are Zoom-ing from, remember there is a level of loneliness and isolation that long-term care residents have gone through since March and it really hasn’t ended for them," Zingraff said.

"For the health of long-term care residents, as well as their emotional health, we have got to ensure that facilities have tablets, iPhones, Wi-Fi connection, etc," Regelbrugge said.

Zingraff is encouraging people to help bring some holiday cheer to residents in nursing homes by getting in touch with a local nursing facility and sending a holiday card or even a care package with some simple things that will really go a long way.

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