The impact of COVID-19 on the life of the elderly

elderly 2020

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Nathalia Sbardellini Sidou Ponte, medical student of the third period, from UNICEPLAC- Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Aparecido dos Santos, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In “The Pest”, Albert Camus portrays how human beings relate to extreme and unusual situations in a pandemic. With the spread of the ‘‘New Pest’’ (Covid-19) reports came out in the book – ‘’no one can leave or enter the city. The population, apart from facing the spread of the disease, also needs to face the isolation from the world’’. In the midst of the pandemic we face, social isolation is one of the vital resources to not only reduce the rate of spread of the new coronavirus in our society but to protect the elderly population, which is in the group considered to be at greatest risk. While we wait for researchers to develop a vaccine capable of immunizing us against the Sars-CoV-2 virus, staying at home and maintaining social distance has become our biggest protective barrier. Regarding this problem, the elderly stand out as a group at greater risk, not only physical but mental, related to increased stress and loneliness, by depriving them of the right to come and go. Thus, support from the family is essential for the protection and promotion of the health of seniors.

Along this path, during the epidemic, mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, fear and stress tend to make the elderly population more susceptible to possible infections. And since the vast majority of the elderly people in Brazil have some comorbidity like diabetes, hypertension and asthma, physical health is more impaired without proper medical care, affected by isolation. Taken together, all of these biopsychosocial problems refer to the relevance of medical and psychological interventions in line with emerging needs in the current pandemic context. Thus, it is addressed in the ABRASCO article “Supporting the weight of Covid-19: elderly people in low and middle income countries” that in these countries 69% of the population is 60 years old or more and health systems are more fragile favoring the Covid-19 to have a greater impact. So that, on March 31, 2020, Ordinance No. 639 of the Ministry of Health was published, which provides for the strategic action ’’ Brazil counts on me’’ training health professionals (doctors and psychologists) to face the pandemic and in a virtual way to help psychologically and physically, the most vulnerable.

Given the above, the biopsychosocial issue of the elderly, during the pandemic, becomes evident as a public health problem. Consequently, it is the government’s responsibility to conduct protocol training in managing stress, trauma, depression and risky behavior, as well as ensuring resources for clinical and mental health care for the elderly, making them easy to access. Moreover, it is vitally important that family members are available to provide emotional support to the elderly with video calls and telephone calls, besides helping them with everyday tasks (for example, grocery shopping). According to that, the effects of social isolation on the lives of the elderly would be mitigated, providing them with greater physical and mental quality. 

References

FELIPE ORNELL JAQUELINE BOHER SCHURCH ANNE ORGLER SORDI FELIX HENRIQUE PAIM KESSLER (Brazil) (Ed.). Pandemic fear and COVID-19: impact on mental health and possible strategy. Porto Alegre, 2020. Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Felix_Kessler2/publication/340442412_Pandemia_de_medo_e_COVID-19_impacto_na_saude_mental_e_possiveis_estrategias/links/5e893140299bf130797c84-de-emia-and- -mental-e-possible-estrategias.pdf>. Accessed on: 20 apr. 2020.

BEATRIZ SCHMIDT MARIA APARECIDA CREPALDI SIMONE DILL AZEREDO BOLZE LUCAS NEIVA-SILVA LAURO MIRANDA DEMENECH (Brazil) (Ed.). Impacts on Mental Health and Psychological Interventions Facing the New Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19). Campinas, 2020. Available at: <https://preprints.scielo.org/index.php/scielo/preprint/view/58/69&gt;. Accessed on: 20 apr. 2020.

PETER LLOYD-SHERLOCK LEON GEFFEN SHAH EBRAHIM MARTIN MCKEE (Brazil) (Ed.). Bearing the weight of Covid-19: elderly people in low and middle income countries. Rio de Janeiro, 2020. Available at: <https://www.abrasco.org.br/site/outras-noticias/opiniao/artigo-suportando-o-peso-da-covid-19-idosos-em-paises- of-low-and-average-income / 45740 />. Accessed on: 20 apr. 2020.

About the author

Nathalia Sbardellini Sidou Ponte, medical student of the third period, from UNICEPLAC- Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Aparecido dos Santos, a regular participant in IFMSA UNICEPLAC projects and academic leagues in General Surgery and Plastic Surgery. Dedicated to medicine, medical books and academic congresses. She is regularly in social projects in churches, public schools and hospitals to fulfill Primary Care and disease prevention in order to learn in practice everything that is portrayed in her studies and classroom.

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