Lancaster Physician Fall 2020 - 18

L A N C A S T E R M E D I C A L S O C I E T Y.O R G

Healthy Communities

Loneliness and
Social Isolation
of Older Adults
During the COVID-19
Pandemic Emergency
ROBERT HOWSE,
MD, CMD

Penn Medicine Lancaster
General Health Physicians
Geriatrics

T

he perils of loneliness and social
isolation of older adults were
well-documented long before the
COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
Living alone, lack of transportation, pain,
illness, and poverty all conspire to increase
morbidity, loss of function, cognitive decline,
hospitalization, and mortality. Successful interventions include support of family, friends,
community organizations, and public programs. These interventions rely on in-person
visits and are supplemented with telephone
calls and minimal use of other electronic media
before the pandemic.
COVID-19 has grossly limited the safety of
in-person visitation, creating an urgent need to
advance and use video telephonic technology
and other electronic surveillance to support
lonely and isolated older adults. Numerous cell
phone, computer, and internet-based technologies are available. Barriers to implementation
are the cost of devices and the lack of use of
the internet and advanced technology by older

LANCASTER

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Lancaster Physician Fall 2020

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