As I talk to my friends in the senior living world, I am often hearing that they now have a new empathy for the real impact of social isolation. In the past this was very rarely a topic of discussion. Now that we have all had months of far, far less social interaction in our own lives the understanding hits in the gut. We get it.
So what? My own reaction is that it is time for senior living operators to take a different path than most are taking today. For now, the rule is to keep Covid-19 out of our communities at all costs. That has been the first and proper path. But after months and months I can see real decline in the mental capabilities my mother-in-law suffers from being cooped up in her room without any visitors. There is a risk of Covid coming into a community and it looks like that risk will not go away for a year. But there is a real risk that is also present in the mental health and well being of residents from not having proper social interaction. There are no simple answers here, but it is time to start balancing the risk. Let us all think about it and shift a bit more toward better social interactions. Some are doing this, and my hat is off to them. Let us join them!