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2020
Aging, care, and isolation in the time of covid-19.
In this article, we focus on how the proxemics of the pandemic affect people with chronic conditions, including the impact of changed norms of engagement for self-care and chronic disease management for individuals and households. Among older people, COVID-19 can both directly and indirectly increase their isolation, load onto existing health problems, and add to the risks of depression and anxiety. While there is excess mortality among older people from COVID-19, the concomitant accumulating social and physical effects of changes to everyday lives may equally contribute to untimely death. With the spread of coronavirus, there has been growing concern for the vulnerability of older people to serious diseases for both biological and social reasons. Emerging data suggest that COVID-19 deaths and other acute conditions are increasingly unrelated to the virus itself, but born out of its social consequences (Delmas, Bouisset, and Lairez 2020; Manderson and Wahlberg 2020). There is concern regarding increasing suicides and (often interconnected) problems of gender-based violence and alcohol misuse (Al-Ali 2020; Gratz et al. 2020; Ramalho 2020; Troutman-Jordan and Kazemi 2020). The aptly named ‘broken heart syndrome’– stress cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy – is also reported to have increased since the start of the pandemic, with the primary risk factor being age, along with anxiety and/or depression (Alharthy et al. 2020; Giustino et al. 2020; Jabri et al. 2020; Sattar et al. 2020). Well into the pandemic, we now need to consider its continuing direct and indirect effects on people’s lives.
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