The lockdown last spring was a trying time, especially for seniors. What are the impacts of this event for this population and how to foresee the second wave that is beginning?
“It is certain that we asked them more than others by telling them to avoid any exit,” admits to La Semaine Dr. David Lussier, of the University Institute of Geriatrics of Montreal.
The latter notes that many elderly people have not only experienced isolation, but have also lost a lot of autonomy. “Some have lost mobility or balance. For others, the consequences are more cognitive, such as memory, ”he explains.
This period was also tough on mood and anxiety for everyone, including the elders. “At the start of the confinement, there was a resilience that was there. We were in there together. But now, there is much more distress, because we realize that the pandemic is continuing, ”continues Dr Lussier.
He recalls that several social activities intended for the elderly have not yet resumed. In addition, in the current context, some have still not had the chance to see their family doctor for a routine examination, which can be insecure, ”underlines the geriatrician.
Nevertheless, the crisis made it possible to identify the weak links in the system. At the beginning of April, Dr Lussier told “La Presse” that the CHSLDs were “the blind spot of the network”, given all the efforts that had been concentrated on the side of hospitals and the fact that patients of these centers were not included in hospitalizations. “It was a change of direction, he confides. CHSLDs are now well protected. I’m pretty confident for the future. ”
Reassure and prevent
It is still difficult to reassure seniors and reassure yourself, while Quebec has just entered the second wave of COVID-19. But for Dr. Lussier, it is unlikely that we will find ourselves in the same situation as last spring. “If we return to confinement, it will not be total or for everyone,” he predicts.
The latter compares the situation to water damage in a house: we end up finding where the leak is coming from. Public health is trying to prevent a threatening scenario from occurring. “We are doing everything we can not to come to this again”, specifies the geriatrician.
A common responsibility
The entire population, including the elderly, has a responsibility in this regard. “The activities must comply with public health instructions and the risk for each of them must be assessed.”
Dr Lussier agrees that it is not easy for older people to restrict their activities, as they are often filled with a sense of urgency. In this regard, the holding or cancellation of certain family reunions is one of the decisions to be made. “It’s very difficult for all families. We want to get together, but we don’t want to harm others. It could make seniors very sick. This risk is sometimes underestimated. ”
The geriatrician believes that the fall is a crucial period if we do not want to sacrifice the holidays. “Now is the time to be very careful. You have to think that our actions can have consequences later. ”
While keeping this in mind, let us still be indulgent towards the elderly, underlines for his part Dr. Stéphane Lemire, social geriatrician. “You have to remember that these are adults who have made decisions their entire lives. They too will have to be able to say to start living again by taking measures such as wearing a mask, keeping your distance and washing your hands, ”he pleaded in an interview with the“ Sun ”.
Needs … and resources!
The nightmare experienced in a CHSLD last spring demonstrates the importance of community organizations that provide home support.
-Specialist physician, Dr. Lemire is also the founder and chairman of the board of directors of the AGES Foundation, an organization that offers local services and information to thousands of seniors. In order to provide tools to the elderly and their loved ones, this organization has designed several videos, including a Sentinels training in social geriatrics.
-The Montreal organization Les Accordailles is looking for volunteers to accompany the elderly to medical appointments or to the grocery store. In an interview with LCN, coordinator Éric Côté also underlined the need for seniors to have fun and socialize. “We make a lot of friendship calls, but it stays on the phone; they would like to have in-person contact. ”
-The confinement has also given way to beautiful projects, like that of Janette Bertrand, who offered to the elders to write their memories. Through the Avant ge center, the 95-year-old woman has published several capsules in which she accompanies the participants in their writing process. According to Dr. Lussier, who is also the director of the organization, this project made it possible to do good to people in a period that encouraged introspection.