By Carol Stenger, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Spiritual Director at Samaritan
Covid-19 may not be what kills you, but some folks may die because of it. What do I mean by this? I have several elderly clients who live alone or are in a high rise where no one is permitted to visit them – not family members or neighbors. The lifeline I offer them is my weekly counseling session to make sure that they are still eating, caring for themselves, are emotionally stable, and are safe within their immediate surroundings.
In addition to physical needs, these seniors need to know that they “count,” that they are loved and valued. Initially folks were able to manage a few months of isolation. But when things were not improving, or hope weaned for them because they could not return to their former social events – like card club, meeting family and friends at a restaurant, or just being allowed to sit in the lobby of their high rise – it took a toll on their mental health. My clients' church services were cancelled, and although some services were lived streamed, these elderly people don’t have computers or tablets. Thus, they become even more spiritually isolated.
I continue to offer my services, bringing them hope in the midst these long days, weeks and months. I pray with them and for them, and encourage them to believe that God lives in their hearts. I remind them that they do matter and are important, and that together we will live beyond Covid-19 and not die due to isolation and loneliness.
We can and must be there for one another, especially those most vulnerable, like our elderly clients.