Category Archives: Aging

New poll looks at the consequences of social isolation on older adults

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

isolation and loneliness in seniors

Photo: Andy Fisher via Flickr

Most older adults say they’re more lonely than ever and have little contact with friends or neighbors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new poll released Sept. 14 from the University of Michigan. The results further reinforce the concern for the long-term mental and physical health effects of the pandemic on older adults.

Some 56% of respondents over the age of 50 reported in June 2020 that they sometimes or often felt isolated from others ― more than twice the 27% who felt that way in a similar poll in 2018. Nearly half of those in the latest poll also said they felt more isolated than they had just before the pandemic arrived in the United States. A third said they felt they had less companionship than before. Continue reading

Reporter looks at misuse of rapid COVID-19 tests in nursing homes

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

Photo: NIAID via FlickrTransmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

It can be difficult in normal times to get reliable, timely information from many long-term care facilities without filing FOIAs or diving deep into inspection reports. During this COVID-19 pandemic, it can be nearly impossible. So when Kaiser Health News’ Rachana Pradhan wanted to learn whether, and how, nursing homes were conducting all-important testing of residents and staff, it’s not surprising she ran into a few roadblocks. Continue reading

New tip sheet looks at mental health effects of COVID-19 on older adults

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

The COVID-19 pandemic has put us all under tremendous stress. Social isolation, loneliness, fear of getting sick, an uncertain economy … the list goes on. According to a mid-July Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, 53% of adults in the United States reported negative mental health effects due to concern and anxiety about the novel coronavirus.

One demographic at especially high risk of mental health issues is older adults, due to their higher probability of contracting the disease, known mental and physical health consequences of isolating, and existing co-morbidities. “The share of older adults (ages 65 and up) reporting negative mental health impacts has increased since March,” according to KFF. Continue reading

One in five nursing homes still lack sufficient PPE

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Surgical masks

Photo: Petra Wessman via Flickr

Despite promises from the Trump administration, a recent study confirmed that many nursing homes still lack the necessary resources to address the COVID-19 crisis adequately in their facilities. Analysis from a national database reflecting 98% of U.S. nursing homes found that more than one in five reported a severe shortage of PPE and staff from May to July.

My colleague Joe Burns and I previously highlighted a report from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) showing that since July 26, 33 states have reported a positive infection rate from coronavirus tests of over 5%.

Continue reading

Staffing in nursing homes matters when combating COVID-19

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

senior wearing a mask

Photo: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Why are some nursing homes doing so much better at containing the coronavirus among residents and staff than others? Testing, adequate protective gear and the ability to isolate infected residents are all important factors. Another key contributor is sufficient staffing, according to a recent research letter in JAMA.

Nursing homes that rated better on staffing had fewer COVID-19 cases than those facilities with poorer staffing ratings. Approximately 27% of deaths due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have occurred among residents of nursing homes, researchers noted in the August 10 letter. (The New York Times estimated closer to 40% if workers are included.) It seems like a no-brainer that more staff might result in fewer cases. Continue reading

Report examines senior living facilities in the wake of COVID-19

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

socially distanced residents in front of their retirement home

Photo: Gilbert Mercier via Flickr

The devastating toll of the coronavirus pandemic in nursing homes has had a domino effect on the entire senior living industry, according to a new report. Misconceptions about housing for older adults, along with negative perceptions about assisted living, independent living and active adult communities, have prompted many owners and operators to take a hard look at what this industry must do to reassure residents and families about safety and wellness. Continue reading