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1.
Innovation in Aging ; 5(Supplement_1):36-37, 2021.
Article in English | PMC | ID: covidwho-1584865

ABSTRACT

Social connections are important for maintaining health and well-being with age. Behavioral interventions to promote connectedness hold promise, but there is limited evidence to guide effective modifications in the context of physical distancing or quarantine restrictions, such as those required during the COVID-19 pandemic. We present evidence for a brief (1-2 session) social connection intervention, “Connections Planning,” to enhance social connectedness for older adults. We first describe a cognitive-behavioral model of loneliness, which served as the framework for developing the intervention. We then present two case examples to demonstrate the application of the intervention with older adults in a community mental health clinic during physical distancing restrictions. Finally, we present initial findings from a pilot study to examine the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention delivered remotely with up to 10 community-dwelling older adults who endorse clinically significant loneliness. Recommendations for adapting the intervention during physical distancing restrictions are provided.

2.
Innovation in Aging ; 5(Supplement_1):37-37, 2021.
Article in English | PMC | ID: covidwho-1584864

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted older adults;due to elevated risk, many older adults have followed physical distancing guidelines. These efforts, while critical to public health, have also impacted the social interactions and connectedness of older adults. In this mixed-methods study, we conducted qualitative interviews and administered questionnaires to 23 adults age 60 and older to examine how physical distancing has affected their social connectedness;what strategies and supports they have utilized to maintain or improve social connectedness despite physical distancing;and what types of supports, programs, and interventions they feel could promote and foster social connectedness among older adults during physical distancing. The results may have implications not only for the pandemic, but also for older adults who cannot leave their homes or experience barriers to typical social activities for any reason (e.g., being homebound, having functional impairments).

3.
Clin Gerontol ; 45(1): 189-194, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1341053

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: We describe two robotic pet demonstration projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Key project components are stakeholders (settings), inputs (activities), and outputs (interest in programs and participant benefit). RESULTS: Stakeholders are an aging services organization in western NY (Lifespan) which served community-dwelling older adults, and a Veteran's Dementia Care Neighborhood (nursing home) that served 14 older Veterans. Project activities: both sites used commercially available robotic pets, with setting-specific deployment procedures. Outputs: 289 pets were distributed by Lifespan; nine Veterans selected pets and four engaged more actively. Community-dwelling older adults reported high satisfaction; satisfaction with the program in Veterans is evidenced by ongoing engagement via staff observation. CONCLUSIONS: Procedures used by our programs may be useful for agencies and care programs interested in implementing robotic pet programs for community-dwelling older adults and those residing in long-term care. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Robotic pets were sought by individuals and care providers in community and long-term care settings to provide companionship for older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic and may be of benefit to older adults.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Robotic Surgical Procedures , Aged , Humans , Independent Living , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
4.
J Am Med Dir Assoc ; 22(10): 1989-1997, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1330933

ABSTRACT

Social functioning is defined as how a person operates in their unique social environment (ie, engagement in activities, connectedness with others, and contributions to social roles). Healthy social functioning is important for nursing home residents as they are at increased risk for loneliness and isolation. Social functioning has long been an underacknowledged aspect of nursing home residents' health, but now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, residents' risk for decreased social functioning is increased. Several reliable and well-validated tools are available to supplement routine care planning and delivery and track and improve changes in social functioning over time. The overarching aim of this article is to provide resources and recommendations for interdisciplinary team assessment related to social functioning for nursing home residents. We describe 2 domains of social functioning measures, care-planning measures and outcome measures, and provide recommendations for how to integrate said measures into practice. Healthy social functioning is needed to maintain nursing home residents' well-being and quality of life. Measures and recommendations outlined in this article can be used by nursing home staff to understand residents' social preferences and address social functioning during COVID-19 and beyond.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Quality of Life , Humans , Nursing Homes , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Interaction
5.
J Am Med Dir Assoc ; 22(3): 682-688, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-761756

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to further knowledge of older Veterans' experiences with transitioning to the community from Veterans Affairs nursing homes (Community Living Centers or CLCs) with emphasis on social functioning. DESIGN: A qualitative study design was used in addition to administration of standardized depression and mental status screens. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Veterans (n = 18) and caregivers (n = 14) were purposively sampled and recruited from 2 rural CLCs in Upstate New York. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were completed with Veterans in the CLC prior to discharge (to explore experiences during the CLC stay and expectations regarding discharge and returning home) and in the home 2-4 weeks postdischarge (to explore daily routines and perceptions of overall health, mental health, and social functioning). Caregivers participated in 1 interview, completed postdischarge. The 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire and the Brief Interview for Mental Status were administered postdischarge. RESULTS: Thematic analysis of verbatim transcriptions revealed 3 inter-related themes: (1) Veterans may experience improved social connectedness in CLCs by nature of the unique care environment (predominantly male, shared military experience); (2) Experiences of social engagement and connectedness varied after discharge and could be discordant with Veterans' expectations for recovery prior to discharge; and (3) Veterans may or may not describe themselves as "lonely" after discharge, when physically isolated. Veterans lacked moderate to severe cognitive impairment (Brief Interview for Mental Status: range = 14-15); however, they reported a wide range in depressive symptom severity postdischarge (9-item Patient Health Questionnaire: mean = 4.9, SD = 6.1, median/mode = 3, range = 0-23). CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This study identified a potential for increased social isolation and disengagement after discharge from Veterans Affairs nursing homes. Nursing homes should integrate social functioning assessment for their residents, while extending care planning and transitional care to address patient-centered social functioning goals.


Subject(s)
Veterans , Aftercare , Humans , Male , New York , Nursing Homes , Patient Discharge , Patient Transfer , United States , United States Department of Veterans Affairs
6.
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry ; 29(8): 816-827, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-291507

ABSTRACT

Older age and medical comorbidity are factors associated with more severe illness and risk of death due to COVID-19 infection. Social distancing is an important public health strategy for controlling the spread of the virus and minimizing its impact on the older adult population. It comes at a cost, however. Loneliness is associated with myriad adverse health outcomes, one of which is impaired immune functioning, which adds even greater risk for coronavirus infection, complications and death. Older adults, therefore, are at compound risk, making effective management of loneliness and social isolation in our older patients a high priority target for preventive intervention. In this paper, the authors describe a cognitive-behavioral framework for social connectedness, including evidence-informed strategies clinicians can use to help patients develop a "Connections Plan" to stay connected and promote their social, mental, and physical health during "social distancing" restrictions. This set of strategies can be provided during brief (30 minute) telephone sessions and is analogous to creating a "Safety Plan" for suicide risk. The approach is illustrated with three case examples.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/psychology , Loneliness/psychology , Social Isolation/psychology , Aged , Anxiety/etiology , Anxiety/therapy , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/methods , Depression/etiology , Depression/therapy , Female , Humans , Male , Physical Distancing , Psychotherapy , SARS-CoV-2
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