The Elderly and Covid

October 19, 2020

I was just discussing the subject of the elderly and COVID with a patient and then this article popped up. He was talking about his 89 year old mother and how she would rather die than not be able to see her granddaughter. If you were older, would you have wanted to spend the last eight months alone with little or no contact with your loved ones (and no end in sight)? I had one woman in my office crying because she "couldn't hug her grandchildren". Another told of how she and her husband would drive by the grandkids' house and wave from the car, another told me of how he was angry with his elderly father, who came to visit for the first time in almost 10 months, because he actually tried to kiss his grandchild. And recently I've heard from several people how their older parents are afraid to come to Thanksgiving; or maybe it's that they are afraid to have their older parents come (shout out Lord Fauci). What price safety? If you were older and recognized your time was limited, would you want to spend what precious time you have left hiding and being all alone or enjoying your loved ones while you still can? I think perhaps our obsession with "protecting" the elderly is more for us than for them. For those who are infirmed it's even worse. Imagine laying in a bed in some facility as your life ebbs away and not being "allowed" any human contact. You may have seen the picture of the couple that has been married for more than 60 years who were finally "allowed" to hug...through a plastic sheet. Some might call that hell. By the way, the population fatality rate for people over 70 in the US is about 0.4%. If you're over the age of 70 and not living in a facility of some kind, your chance of dying from COVID stands at about 0.2 (that's 2/10ths of one percent). And COVID deaths account for somewhere between 10% and 20% of all deaths in those over 70 which means that as many as nine out of ten people (who have died from something other than COVID) in that age group this year in America may very well have spent their last days, weeks, or months of life alone. Someday we will realize that the cost in human life (not to mention human suffering) of "protecting" ourselves is orders of magnitude higher than the price extracted by the virus itself. But maybe I'm just a selfish, anti-science, grandma-killer. Yeah, maybe that's it.

Click link for article: https://news.virginia.edu/cont...

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