Physician: Older people seek human connections during pandemic
Everyday human connection has frayed during this time of pandemic, social distance and lockdowns, especially for older people, who are most vulnerable to getting sick or dying of the coronavirus.
So even a doctor's visit — not even necessarily in person — can be joyous, according to Dr. Michele C. Reed, the owner and medical director of MS Family Medicine Health Care In Garden City and Rosedale, Queens, said Thursday afternoon at a Newsday webinar.
"I've been doing a lot of telemedicine visits, so they are just so happy just to have somebody connect to them, even if it's just on the computer," Reed said. "They are going through anxiety about what's going on."
Still, she said: "Our older people, they want to be out and about."
Reed and Dr. Philip Solomon, director of geriatric education and clinical integration and associate program director for the geriatrics fellowship program at Northwell Health, discussed how the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions affect older people, in the webinar, "Protecting Mom and Dad During COVID-19's Second Wave."
Moderated by Newsday columnist Joye Brown, the webinar was the latest of the Newsday LIVE series, which in 2020 has focused mostly on the pandemic. The coronavirus has sickened at least 17.1 million Americans and killed 308,908, according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard.
The pandemic has been particularly deadly for older people: about 85% of New York State's more than 28,000 fatalities have been aged 60 or older, according to state Health Department figures.
Solomon said older people should discuss risks with younger people who may not take the virus as seriously about in-person meetings. Those discussions, he said, can diffuse tensions later on.
"They need to be open and direct with some of their younger family members and say, ‘I’m sorry, I just don’t feel comfortable seeing you in person.’ Or, ‘Maybe I feel comfortable seeing you in person in an outdoor setting, in a physically distant setting, and making sure we’re all masked,’ and making sure that those guidelines are put out up front before any type of interactions," he said.
Coming later in December: "Business & COVID-19: How to Plan for a Second Wave: Helping Long Island Businesses During Coronavirus," Friday at 8 a.m., and Tuesday at noon: "Help! My Kid Doesn’t Care About COVID-19."