The nursing home where I worked this past summer was fortunate. The long-term care facility shielded its residents from the chaos of the pandemic unfolding outside and managed to avoid any positive COVID-19 cases among its residents and staff for the summer. Of course, this came at a cost. Visitors were barred, activities were canceled, and residents were largely made to stay in their rooms. Even though residents received the same medical care as before—physicians still inspected wounds and nurses continued to pass medications—their mental health and overall wellbeing noticeably diminished. No longer able to enjoy bingo or attend religious services, they sat in their rooms watching TV, becoming more confused by the day.
Other nursing homes have encountered greater medically-related difficulties. By October of 2020, nearly 50% of COVID-19 deaths occur in nursing homes, with Britain losing approximately 5% of its nursing home population to the virus. During those early months of the pandemic in the US, residents and employees of nursing homes accounted for 35% of COVID deaths in the country. The elderly in general were afflicted by the disease at a disproportionate rate, and this knowledge caused many to shelter in their homes uncertain about when they might be able to leave.
Cite as: Justin Chu, “A Forgotten Crown of Glory: The Elderly and COVID-19,” Ethics & Medicine 36, no. 3 (2020): 143–144.
About the Author
Justin Chu, MA
Justin Chu, MA, received his master's in bioethics from Trinity International University. He will begin medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin in the fall of 2021.