Seniors Struggle With Mental Health Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

CHARLOTTE, NC – Depression, and loneliness are increasing in North Carolina’s older populations. Local health care providers say they’re now increasing video visits and encouraging distant communication to keep older patients feeling positive.

Even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Dr. Thirath Chau with Oak Street Health said loneliness was a common concern in older populations. 

“Given the shelter in place and stay at home orders, this has exacerbated that social isolation,” said Chau.

“What we are finding is that the loneliness is a huge issue. So we’re increasing touchpoints with those patients,” he continued. 

He says a decrease in mental health can lead to other physical problems. 

“Increase hypertension. Raise blood pressure. It can also make mood disorders much worse such as depression,” said Chau.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 85% of deaths from COVID 19 in the state are people over the age of 65. 

“Right now we can’t physically be with our loved ones, but the telephone is a tried and true method of connecting with others,” said Chau.

Chau says phone calls, video chats, and emails can be effective tools to prevent the influx of loneliness and depression. 

“Reach out to your loved ones. Make sure everyone is staying safe and make sure our connections are nice and strong,” said Chau.

North Carolina Emergency Management will soon ship personal protective equipment across the state in an effort to help limit the spread and quell fears of the virus. Three thousand facilities will soon be getting a fourteen-day supply of face shields, procedure masks, gloves and shoe covers.