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NCBAM offers help for older adults facing isolation

Does the thought of “social distancing” — missing church, movies, or friendly hugs for weeks cause you to feel uneasy? Have you imagined what it might feel like to be quarantined inside your home — to depend on frozen foods, family, friends, or social services for basic necessities? As Americans face the coronavirus pandemic, questions like these are on everyone’s mind. But for thousands of frail-aging adults in North Carolina, living “quarantined” is an ongoing day-to-day reality, and has been long before we ever heard of social distancing or self-isolation.

Health professionals are concerned about isolation among older adults and consider it already a health crisis of major proportions –– one that contributes to high blood pressure, depression, cognitive decline, and a 30% increased risk of premature death.

Whitney Brooks, an integrative health coach and consultant for North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM), is concerned that seniors are losing even more valuable contact with friends and loved ones as an unintended consequence of social distancing efforts.

“Although social isolation and loneliness among seniors isn’t a new problem, it has only recently gained national attention. Because seniors are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, nursing homes and assisted living communities are limiting outside visitors which has resulted in a sudden onset of greater isolation. NCBAM’s Hope Line offers a way to help older adults while they wait this out.”

For seniors who may be living on the brink of social isolation, the recent recommendations for slowing the spread of the virus may make life even lon