The Impact of Corona-Isolation to the Wellbeing of the Elderly and Their Polypharmacy Risks
American psychological association APA wrote in March about risks that coronavirus isolation poses for health of older adults. Loneliness and isolation have negative impact on elderly physical and mental wellbeing and mortality which may increase even more during coronavirus isolation.
Isolation has both short- and long-term effects
Causalus team works daily with elderly medications and we have been following how coronavirus crisis has affected the care homes. About half of COVID-19 deaths occur in care homes, thus strict isolation measures are taken place to protect the elderly. Many care homes implement lockdowns and prohibit visitors. These isolation measures limit the typical ways how well-being of elderly is being taken care of.
Polypharmacy means that a person is concurrently taking multiple different medications. Polypharmacy has been common among the elderly already before coronavirus crisis and older adults often suffer from adverse effects of polypharmacy. Although care homes discover creative new ways to provide good life for elderly during isolation, there is a risk that morbidity will increase, lack of social contacts will predispose to psychological disorders and as a result, polypharmacy will increase even further. Also COVID-19 disease itself may leave long term effects that can be detrimental for old and fragile people and therefore even further increase the burden for elderly well-being.
Immediate intervention is needed
If care homes are not currently monitoring and following medications systematically and aiming to reduce polypharmacy, now's the time to act! Causalus team recommends all care homes who strive to provide safe and effective medical care to revise their medication procedures.
Furthermore, the societies need to monitor the health and well-being of care home residents and identify the effects of coronavirus isolation and COVID-19 disease. The end goal not just to overcome the pandemic, but also prepare to tailor correct and timely support for elderly after coronavirus crisis.
The Causalus team truly hopes that the elderly community is been adequately considered when planning for the after-care of the coronavirus crisis!
Sirkku Karinen (PhD), CTO at Causalus
The writer holds a PhD from cancer genetics research and is currently leading the technical development at Causalus