This post was written by Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr., executive director for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, and was originally published by The National Hispanic Council on Aging.
COVID-19 is caused by something so small we cannot even see it, a virus known as SARS-CoV-2. This virus is causing illness and death throughout the world; and it seems to be targeting our elders especially hard. According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the United States of America have been adults 65 years and older. And the older you are the worse the statistics. This is a tenuous time for grandmothers, grandfathers, older siblings, loved ones, and neighbors.
Great concern, appropriately so, exists for our elders that live in residential care facilities as well as those that live in multigenerational homes. But why? The answer: we are learning daily more and more about how this virus operates, but one thing that has become abundantly clear at this point in time is its predilection for individuals older than 60 and especially those with preexisting medical conditions such as, but not exclusively, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, the immunocompromised, chronic kidney disease, and liver disease. COVID-19 is taking a toll on our individual and collective mental health. It is causing grief, anxiety, and fear. But there is much an elder, a family member, and/or a caretaker can do. Read more.