- Across 26 countries, 47% of all Covid-19-linked deaths have been care home residents.
- A 79% increase in deaths in England’s care homes has been found compared to the same period in previous year.
- In the US, nursing homes were named the “ground zero” of the pandemic.
- Cases are rising again in many countries, the threat remained serious for elderly people.
- There are also concerns over a drop in hospital admissions during the pandemic, leading to fears elderly people may be storing up undiagnosed health problems for the future.
It’s the worst disaster of the pandemic. But WHO chief says our lack of concern shows ‘moral bankruptcy’, writes Emma Reynolds for CNN Health.
Elderly people’s life important
They are among the greatest victims of coronavirus, yet elderly people continue to be dismissed, despite growing evidence of the devastating effects the pandemic has had on them.
“No, when the elderly are dying it’s not fine. It’s a moral bankruptcy,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.
“Every life, whether it’s young or old, is precious and we have to do everything to save it.”
Almost 88% of all deaths in Europe were among people aged 65 and over.
According to the Long-Term Care Covid (LTCcovid) network at the London School of Economics, almost half of all deaths linked to Covid-19 globally have taken place in care homes.
But despite vast numbers of elderly people dying of coronavirus the global response to the risks they face in the era of Covid-19 has often been chilling.
There is also a significant drop in the quality of life of many of those forced to self-isolate.
Care homes buzzing before lockdown
Before lockdown, Hall said the home was buzzing with regular activities, visits from friends and family and even a children’s group.
“All of that stopped overnight,” said Hall, the bursar at the Home of Comfort in Portsmouth.
“It felt like the heart had gone from our home. Without these people here, it feels a little bit empty and a little bit soulless … Suddenly everyone’s confined to their room,” she said.
Care home managers around the world told CNN earlier in the pandemic that the situation was dire and the toughest they had seen in decades-long careers.
Pain of relatives
Many relatives have described the pain of not being able to visit relatives.
Mary Daniel, from Florida, told CNN in July that she had taken a dishwashing job at her husband’s nursing home just so she could see him.
Many families have been separated from often-confused relatives for months, and told they will only be able to see them when they are dying, according to the UK dementia charity John’s Campaign and reports to CNN.
Julia Hailes was “completely desperate” when lockdown prevented her from visiting her 90-year-old mother, Minker, who has dementia.
Recently, Hailes was allowed to visit her mother in her room for the first time since lockdown, but said she found it difficult to communicate while wearing gloves, a mask and apron and sitting behind a perspex screen
Hailes said it was important to bear in mind elderly patients’ quality of life, and not just survival rates.
Hailes and Minker read poems together, but now, “she has faded more, she can’t really speak anymore” said Hailes.
Governments’ action plan
Sweden took the controversial decision not to lock down.
the country’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told a local newspaper that its Public Health Agency “didn’t know that there would be such a big potential for the disease to spread in elderly care homes, with so many deaths.”
The former Prime Minister of Australia suggests that some elderly coronavirus patients could be left to die naturally.
“For care homes it’s been catastrophic both in terms of the people that have died. But also in terms of the people that have survived but not been able to access and the care and the quality of life that they would normally expect,” Adam Gordon, professor of the care of older people at the UK’s University of Nottingham, told CNN.
Cases are rising again in many countries, and the threat remained serious for elderly people.
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