The vulnerable
ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - July 18, 2020 - 12:00am

I am aware of the most vulnerable sectors during the pandemic. That is in terms of safety, security, and social and mental well-being. I am thinking of our children, financially-disadvantaged brothers and sisters as well as the sector that I belong to, the seniors.

The elderly are the most impacted sector when the neighborhoods are under a quarantine and physical distancing is the rule. Even when we want to feel loved and become part of a strong community, we feel lonely and isolated. While we are far from being with our loved ones, who already have their own families, the situation makes life feel so departed and desolate.

While our complaints of boredom and loneliness are valid, when we realize how our lolos and lolas are doing their best to ride out the pandemic, they become almost trivial.

Seniors were the virus' greatest victims, and remain the most vulnerable. The pandemic puts in perspective how we began to realize their company, especially now that physical distancing, is a must to save their lives.

As the novel coronavirus spreads across the globe, older adults and people with pre-existing conditions, such as heart or lung disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems have become the most susceptible populations to the disease.

Older adults and individuals with chronic health conditions often struggle with anxiety and depression. Recommendations to stay at home or to keep a safe distance from others to prevent exposure to COVID-19 can in some people reinforce these feelings. It is too frustrating for us to stay at home for such an extended period of time. And the more we are so alone, the more constrained we are in this situation, our world becomes so isolating, limiting our social interactions to just the people at home.

Physical distancing is needed to delay COVID-19 transmission, but this does not need to be social isolation. People with depression or anxiety should be very vigilant and use social media to contact their friends and family.

Being continually watching the news can also raise anxiety. People should be encouraged to find one or two sites that have reliable information and then periodically review them during the day.

Stress and uncertainty are especially daunting for seniors with mental health conditions such as dementia and others who have lived through traumatic events and disaster situations. Seniors felt best at home, and so chose not to leave. Yet several of the people living in the affected area remain because they felt they could help those who did not want to evacuate. Seniors with skills and experience took on leadership roles after the calamities by training volunteers, taking donations, and identifying isolated neighbors.

Seniors with close ties to their community would potentially make exceptional volunteers. We were especially good at identifying vulnerable seniors who may need supplementary assistance. Since some seniors may feel isolated even inside their own neighborhoods or homes, community outreach programs have said that they feel the need to extend their services to seniors who may not be involved in community organizations.

Taking good care of our seniors means not being materialistically with them but taking care of their souls, their well-being, their hearts, and everything of them.

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