Pathways Issue 4: COVID-19 and Seniors' Health - Page 3

Dear friends,
Every day, for weeks now, the COVID-19
health crisis has unfolded bringing new
developments — many of them worrying, some
of them ominous — and yet the best of humanity
continues to shine through. We’ve come together,
not only as a health-care community, but as a
province, a country and indeed one world bound
in the pursuit of health and wellness.
In an outbreak such as COVID-19, everyone
is at risk, which presents greater challenges,
particularly for higher at-risk populations such
as seniors. The virus is transmitted through
contact and proximity, yet human connection is
necessary — not only for treatment of the afflicted,
but for everyone, no matter their health status or
age. And therein lies the extraordinary challenge
we as a community will continue to meet head on.
Now more than ever, we must especially stay
connected to our seniors — from the very active,
who now find themselves suddenly sedentary, to
those with serious pre-existing health conditions
who are already limited in their ability to connect
with others. In many ways, seniors have become
the face of COVID-19. They’re more vulnerable to
the virus so we must reduce their risk.
So how can we support seniors during this
extraordinary outbreak? This special edition of
Pathways includes many practical protocols and
ideas for everyone, including seniors, that we hope
you’ll find helpful.
But more broadly — as seniors, health-care
providers, friends and family members — we must
prioritize a two-pronged approach, balancing the
necessity of physical distancing with the need for
human connection and care. We can’t sacrifice
compassion in our quest to reduce transmission.
The effects of social isolation can be devastating.
The antidote — empathy, conversation,
connection — does not require mass stimulus or
government decree. It only needs people, acting in
community, looking out for each other in the most
beautifully human and basic way while creatively
using the technological tools at our disposal.
Connecting with compassion, connecting with
care. Knowing the risks, mitigating them to the
best of our ability, and being there for each other,
especially for our seniors. In times like these,
simple important messages can sometimes sound
clichéd. But that’s often because familiar phrases
say it so well. We truly are all in this together.
So every day, during this outbreak and beyond, as
long as we remain committed to each other and
ensuring the well-being of seniors, the best of
humanity will continue to shine. I proudly stand
with you, our health-care community, our province,
our country and indeed with billions worldwide.
Together we will sustain and thrive.
In good health,
Dermot Kelleher MB, MD, FRCP, FRCPI, FMedSci, FCAHS, FRCPC, AGAF
Dean, Faculty of Medicine
Vice-President, Health
The University of British Columbia