LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- As more seniors and elderly people with existing medical conditions are asked to stay home to protect themselves from COVID-19, social isolation is becoming a concern.
Experts say social isolation can lead to depression which can be worse than the virus itself.
“They fold into themselves. They stop communicating with people and that depression turns into not eating and drinking but also loss of connection to life,” said Jeffrey Klein, president of Nevada Senior Services.
Many of the seniors under his care have dementia or Alzheimer's and become very accustomed to a routine.
When they are taken out of that routine and away from their peers, depression from social isolation can set in, experts say.
“When people give up life, they decline fairly rapidly,” said Klein.
However, the fear of COVID-19 is prompting home caregivers to pull their loved ones from their day care centers.
“It attacks the older generation,” said Dennis Jones Junior, a home caregiver to his mother-in-law Joyce.
Jones and his wife have decided to remove Joyce from the Adult Day Care Center over fear she could contract coronavirus.
He is fortunate enough to be able to stay home and care for her, but not everyone has that luxury.
To make sure the elderly people who are taken out of their day care centers do not fall into depression from social isolation, Nevada Senior Services is asking their staff to call and check in with them at home.
Staff there are also doing in home visits, allowing the primary home caregiver some respite.
“Somebody goes into that home and actually gives the family caregiver a chance to leave the house if they like. Go shopping, go to a movie, read a book, read a book in the other room. So it’s connectivity for the senior, but it’s also a break in the action for the family caregiver,” said Klein.
The City of Las Vegas announced it would close five senior centers following the declaration of a national emergency by the president of the United States.
City officials say the move to close the senior center was done to protect the city’s most vulnerable people.