Deaths of Despair
Nursing home residents face twin foes of isolation and virus risk
Various analyses suggest that around 40% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have taken place at nursing homes. While the data will be refined over time, it’s clear that nursing home residents are an extremely vulnerable population in a pandemic.
An article at The American Conservative (June 5) called “Continued Isolation Will Kill More Elderly” serves as a springboard for discussing the future of eldercare and whether current paradigms need to be changed. (A link to it is included at bottom.)
Article author Michael Toscano, executive director of The Institute for Family Studies, argues that further isolation can’t be considered a humane solution to the problem facing our elderly in this pandemic. Deaths of despair are a real phenomenon. Still, he admits we must keep the elderly from the virus. How to proceed?
Short term, Toscano says the key to ending isolation is the rapid test, which could be used to screen caregivers and visitors. Whenever a large quantity of reliable rapid tests appears on the scene, nursing homes should be among the first to get them.
Long term, Toscano suggests we “depopulate these facilities by helping families provide in-home care” that is federally subsidized and covered by paid family leave.